Grand Rapids Civic Theater thrives on talent

The Grand Rapids Civic Theater and School of Theatre Arts is known to be one of the largest and best community theaters in the United States. Many students in East Grand Rapids participate in the productions and classes held at the Civic Theater and continue to carry on its legacy.

The Civic was born in the roaring twenties at what is now the St. Cecilia Music Center and was able to survive through decades of economic and social change. In the 1960s the theater took off and began to gain in popularity and reputation. Today, over 800 volunteers offer their services to help put on performances at the civic, and over 1,600 students are trained there by professionals annually.

Julia Callahan ‘25 started participating in classes at the Civic from a young age and eventually started performing on stage.

“I first started doing things at Civic when I was in second grade at the classes, but then eventually I started going on the main stages,” Callahan said.

Going to the Civic theater has taught Callahan many lessons and helped her find a good balance in her life.

“It has made me so much more confident and a more well-rounded person in general,” Callahan said.

Callahan has many supporters and role models at the civic, one, in particular, being one of her favorite teachers, Worth Hages.

“She directed two of the shows I was in, she choreographed two of the other shows I was in, and she’s just all around incredible,” Callahan said.

Worth Hages is a director, choreographer, and teacher at the theater and she has a background in dance, voice, and musical theater.

Hages studied musical theatre her whole childhood before studying at The Boston Conservatory of Music where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. She then became a Broadway musical theater performer and teaching artist. Hages has performed at legendary venues all over the country, including The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and The 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle. Notable roles include playing Amber Von Tussel in “Hairspray.”

Hages has been at the Civic for seven years and has been a teaching artist, director, choreographer, and mentor for The Young Artists Studio throughout the years.

She is passionate about what she does and loves the community she teaches and works with.

“I love the connections actors have with the characters they play and how the audience can be present watching live theatre. I am passionate about being an educator in theatre because I love helping young artists find their voice and own interpretations of the material,” Hages said.
The Civic Theatre offers classes for all ages in acting, singing, dancing, improvisation, stage makeup, stage combat, creating scripts, and everything behind the scenes.

“There is a place and opportunity for anyone that has an interest in theatre with any skill set to start too,” Hages said.

The Civic Theatre believes that “all people should experience the thrill, excitement, and storytelling of live theatre.” People can continue to experience the magic of the Civic this season by coming to one of its many shows.

“Right now the play ‘“Puffs”’ will be running from March 3rd-March 12th. Next up will be the musical ‘“Something Rotten”’ running from April 28th-May 21st. The new season starting next September with ‘“Spongebob Musical”’ is going to be really fun and season tickets are a great way to see all ahead!” Hages said.