In the City of Mason, a local treasure has captivated audiences for half a century. As the Mason Community Players (MCP) commemorate their 50th anniversary, they celebrate the impact this community theater group has had on the local arts scene and the lives of countless individuals who have graced its stages.
MCP’s journey began in 1973 when four high school juniors complained that there was “nothing to do” in Mason. Their beloved teacher, Mr. Jon Hopkins, challenged them to do something about it, and the teens rose to the occasion.
Karen Terry, Linda Geering, Mark Jayne, Kathleen Sherman and Sherry Straub approached Mason City Council to ask for an $800 loan to put on a production. They were awarded $1,000, which translates to about $5,000 in today’s money according to Linda.
Linda shares, “My mom recently told me that when we got there, it was a done deal. My father and Karen Terry’s mom had talked to two council members and told them that they would handle the money. I didn’t know that, and neither did any of the rest of us. They created that situation so that we would feel more empowered.”
They performed The Music Man as their first production and a tongue-in-cheek homage to their feelings about living in a small town. Their showing in September led to another production the following February, then another in August, and October and so on, for fifty years.
Current MCP President Lara Gonzalez explains, “It’s a little bit of magic every day with this group of people who are encouraging, supporting and fun.”
Beyond the spotlight, MCP has played a pivotal role in nurturing personal growth and development. Countless actors, directors and crew members have honed their skills and found their creative voices within the embrace of this community theater. Young performers have gained confidence, and seasoned artists have continued to refine their craft.
“I started doing makeup. Everybody had blue eyeshadow then - but I’m grateful that they let me try. I eventually went to makeup school at CCM for film and television, and worked as a makeup artist for several years,” Linda shares.
The Mason Community Players is comprised of volunteers. From the administrators to set builders, costume designers, and of course actors, these individuals have kept the magic of theater alive in Mason, ensuring that each performance is a memorable, multi-generational experience.
“When my little brother was six, he had a role, and in that same production, my grandparents were on stage,” says founding member, Kathleen.
MCP hosted a 50th anniversary Gala in September to celebrate a half-century of live theater in Mason. They presented five productions in 2023, including a world premiere musical about local history, written by an MCP member. Moreover, they hosted monthly gatherings for friends old and new. The last event of the year is Caroling in Mason in December.
In addition to celebrating, MCP is using this milestone to look ahead. Their “50 for 50 Fundraiser” aims to raise $50,000 by the end of the year to renovate their building, invest in necessary equipment, and repair and prevent water damage. Patrons can donate in person, online, or mail a check to 5529 Mason Road, P.O. Box 300.
Lara shares, “There is something special in the air when you see a live performance. I’m grateful that I found MCP 13 years ago. You’re family the first time you show up.”
The 50th anniversary of Mason Community Players is a remarkable milestone celebrating their past accomplishments and the promise of their future. Here's to the next 50 years of artistic excellence, innovation, and the enchantment of live theater. For information on their exciting 2024 season, visit MasonPlayers.org.