Improvements ahead for MSU Summer Theatre

Andrea Johnson/MDN From left to right, Minot State University vice president for advancement Rick Hedberg, Minot Area Community Foundation President Jason Zimmerman, Minot State University Summer Theatre Board of Directors President Cheryl Nilsen, Summer Theatre Board of Directors Vice President Dan Langemo, Minot State University President Steve Shirley, Summer Theatre Artistic Director Chad Gifford, and attorney Jon Backes, a member of the MSU Board of Regents and MSU Development Foundation Board, break ground Thursday morning on Phase 1 of a revitalization project for the MSU Summer Theatre.

Handicapped accessible seating, wider aisles and hand rails are to be added to the Minot State University Summer Theatre during Phase 1 of a revitalization project that will begin next Monday and be completed by May.

The $1.9 million project has had 150 businesses and individual donors thus far, including the Minot Area Community Foundation which pledged $500,000 in matching funds.

No productions were held at the Summer Theater this past summer due to the coronavirus pandemic and attendees at a ground-breaking ceremony said that the plays have been sorely missed.

A full slate of plays is planned for next summer, when attendees should once again be able to enjoy the plays in an improved setting.

Rick Hedberg, MSU Vice President for Advancement, said that the 50-year-old facility has been in need of an upgrade.

According to information provided by MSU, the first phase will integrate handicapped accessible seating in the lower, middle, and upper concourse, increase space for aisles and handrails where needed, and replace the upper level deck. Seating from the lower section will be removed to accommodate the new aisles, but will be added to the upper section in order to keep seating at the current level. The amphitheater will add about 20 more seats and bring the total seating to just under 500.

Minot residents and people from the surrounding area have enjoyed attending productions at the summer theatre, but it can be difficult to access the facility.

“This is about enhancing the experience for the attendees,” said MSU President Steve Shirley. “… We want the experience once they’re here to be a better one.”

Shirley said the university hopes that the amphitheater will be around for the community to enjoy for at least another 50 years.

Chad Gifford, summer theatre artistic director, said people are excited about the renovation. Those involved in summer theatre do it out of love, he said.

Phase 2 of the project, which is scheduled to begin after the 2021 play season is over, will include a new driveway to make drop-offs easier, create a new plaza, add a canopy over the stage, improve the orchestra pit, add bathrooms, a ticket office, and air-conditioned dressing rooms.

More fundraising will need to be done to complete the project.

According to MSU, Rolac Contracting of Minot is the general contractor for the first phase. The second phase of the project is expected to go to bid this winter and begin in August 2021. The entire project is slated to be completed by May 2022.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)


Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today