“I was born in Flint in 1955, still have family in the area, attended Potter, Pierce, Whittier and Central, and Mott Community College, but haven't lived there since the mid seventies. (I went to Ann Arbor in 1977, then moved to California on graduation in 1980.)
“I was wondering about a couple things. One was the Musical Tent. Do you have any recollections of it? It might have been a little before your time, but it was a tent that was raised in the summer out on Dort Highway, most of the way to Clio (or even beyond toward Birch Run?) where they produced Broadway-style musicals.
“The other is the Fall and Spring AC Concerts, which were held in the IMA Auditorium in the sixties. The latter is of particular interest to me, because my father was an executive at AC, and he produced them. They had big-name stars in them (e.g., Florence Henderson, Edie Adams, Anita Bryant, in her pre-orange juice, gay bashing days, etc.), combined with the AC men’s and women's chorus and local talent.”
Friday, April 18, 2008
Flint Expatriate Rand Simberg, who writes the Transterrestrial Musings blog, checks in with a request for information on the dearly departed Musical Tent and the AC concerts.
Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at www.teardownbook.com.
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OK, I'm just going through old posts, from before I found this blog. Of course I remember the Musical Tent, having grown up in Clio. I don't remember where exactly it was, except I'm sure it was between Flint and Clio. I think I saw "Gigi" there one summer. It had multi-colored stripes, right? If you're still there, reading posts from months ago ... !ReplyDelete
The tent stripes were blue and white, as I remember.Delete
I was an intern at the Musical Tent in the 60's and then was cast in several productions. I have many pictures and even a few playbills. The most famous actor I was priviledged to work with was Emmy award winner Michael Zaslow and I have a great picture of him in "How to succeed in business". This was one of the greatest times in my life and I will always cherish those days.ReplyDelete
Pam Barley Seltzer
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The Musical Tent was located on Saginaw Road at the corner of Tobias Road, a half mile from Vienna Rd. near Clio. I worked there as house manager in the summer of 1958 and I was responsible for putting up the tent in 1965 when it blew down in a ferocious storm before we could get it completely tied off. Going back to 1958, Robert Adams was my favorite. Someone has mentioned they took dance lessons from Lynn Adams, Bob's sister. Was that in Flint? One of Bob's daughters was also named Lynne but with an "e" Everything about the Musical Tent was a treasure, especially for those of us who worked there. I don't think I have ever worked so hard with so much enthusiasm in my entire life. Even though much of the cognoscenti of Flint considered it a cultural city with two theaters, the Flint Community Players and The Flint Youth Theater, the Musical Tent was the cultural high point for Flint. I am writing a magazine article about the Tent and would like very much to see copies of any photos, playbills or programs.Delete
I have a picture of my brother, Bill Brohn, writing arrangements with Michael Kuttner, the musical director (I believe that it is Kuttner, but I would need to see another picture of Kuttner to confirm this)Delete
Bill went on to: Play the double bass with the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler. Conduct the American Ballet, the Joefry Ballet and several road tours of Broadway musicals before ending his career as a top (Tony Award winning) Broadway and UK West End orchestrator.
The picture reveals that he was already doing arrangements in the early 60's.
If you would like a copy of the photo, let me know.
Anita Bryant and AC?ReplyDelete
She did television commericals for AC Spark Plug in 1965. I used to watch them in a video bar in Chicago in the late 80's. They added footage to the end of the spot showing a car careening off a cliff and bursting into flame.
I know that I am posting this two years after the original post, but I too have great memories like Pam about the Musical Tent (which was in Clio). I was in many productions there (as a child actor) back in 1966. It was the most memorable summer of my life.ReplyDelete
We would work in the "rehearsal hall" all day long and on "dark days" would work into the evening too. I remember always having to put on Off" because the mosquitoes were so bad.
When we did "The King and I", they ran out of makeup that they used to make us look darker, so they melted chocolate bars from the concession stand and mixed it with something and smeared it all over us (as we were using full body makeup). We all went on stage smelling like a chocolate factory.
I remember working with Georgia Engel (later she was on The Mary Tyler Moore Show)that year. She was only 18 years old at the time.
I'm still in the entertainment industry. I'm a business manager in Hollywood for celebrity clients. Have been gone from Flint for over 30 years.
I grew up in the Civic Park area and took my kids back there a few years ago to visit. Boy - was that depressing. Most of the block I grew up on on Chevrolet Ave is really in bad shape and many houses have actually disappeared altogether.
But it's great to have the memories. Thanks for your work in keeping this site going!
HI Kevin, I was in charge of getting the tent pout up in 1966, the year you worked as an actor. Do you recall that it was blown down during a thunder storm, while it was being put up? Congratulations on your work in the celebrity business. I owned a recording studio in Mt. Morris and later was a booking agent for nightclub bands. Both my sons play music and Eric plays heavy metal. I am writing a magazine story about the year, 1957, when I was the house manager. I would like to know more about your recollections of the tent and any photos or program yo might have. firstname.lastname@example.orgDelete
I remember the Musical Tent being near Pine Run (Dort and Vienna) east of Clio. I was only there once or twice though.ReplyDelete
Oh I loved The Musical Tent.............it was magical. I grew up on a farm in Indiantown.....so it was a slice of culture I am so thankful my mom privileged my twin sister and I with! I remember returning home from seeing South Pacific.....I would create " I'm going wash that man right out of my hair"......belting out the words under my own makeshift theater, our giant willow tree in our yard. I'd gather the leafy branches wrap them over my head and shoulders and pretend to wash away............I was own one woman theater.......such joys the Musical Tent provided......Damn Yankees, Camelot, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Princess and the Pea........West Side Story........How to Succeed in Business........ReplyDelete
I was an intern in 1969...it was a great summer. Like Pam I was close to Michael Pam I was very close to Michael Zazlow...and lived in the same bldg in NYC...we met at The Tent....anyone remember Denny from Gr Blanc?ReplyDelete
I remember the musical tent in the 1950's. My dad was an investor in the tent and we had tickets to all the shows. Once Tex Ritter came to our house to visit and see the German short haired pointer puppies we had. I must have been around seven or eight and Tex kissed me on my cheek. I was thrilled.ReplyDelete
We have nothing from the tent but a picture of my sister changing the sign. I keep looking for playbills at estate sales. Hopefully one will turn up.
Hey, feel free to send me a few digital photos via email if they turn up. I'd love to post them.ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure it was located in Pine Run at the corner of Saginaw and Tobias Rd.ReplyDelete
You are so right. the show was on the south east corner of Saginaw and Tobbias roan just across from the old Green farm. I think there is a gravel pit there now. I worked there doing odd jobs like driving the Actors back and forth from the homes they were living in while they were working in the area. I spent lots of time with Gorden McCray when they were showing Oklahoma. We also got to get in a few of the shows like Wish You Were Here and Brigadon. I Charlie Nachbar, Jerry Nelson & Dick Choat all worked at the Tent. Doing Maintance and painting before the painters Union cought up with us. I also rember giving Slapsy Maxi Roseinbloom a ride from Bishop Air port in my old 49 olds convertible before we had A SPEED limit. WE got as far as Pine Run and said he would like to walk the rest of the way after a cup of coffie at Pegs Pantrey. jUST didn't like my driveing. Of course I wasn't old enough to have a drivers lisence at the time. I think I was only fifteen at the time. I also remember Jerry Nelson taking Gorden McKrays wife shopping in Flint all day with Gordens new Chevrolet and he was the same age I was. They sure had some wonderful shows the and we will never forget those wonderful summer days and those we worked with,Delete
You are so right. The Tent was on the South east corner of Tobias & Saginaw Rd. I worked there in the Early 50s. the was Dick Choat Jerry Nelson & charlie Nachbar. We done repairs around the tent. Painted things up until the painters Union cought up with us. Drove the actors. to and from work even though we didn't have drivers licence. for we were only 51 at the time. I rember Goden McKray & Slapsy Maxie Roseinbloom He said he would rather get into the Boxing ring than ride in my old 49 Olds convertible.I also rember Jerry Nelson taking Gorden McKray's Wife to Flint shopping all day with Gordrns new Chevy Convertible. He was also 15 at the time. Those were the good old days.Delete
I was the house manager at the Musical Tent in 1957. The Tent was located on Saginaw Highway not far from Wilson Road. Yes, it was across Saginaw Road from the Green farm; but that doesn't convey what a slice of culture it was.ReplyDelete
Saginaw Highway was a main highway between Flint and Saginaw, Michigan. One of the investors, Bill Dooley, was from Saginaw so the tent was located halfway between the two cities.
Robert K. Adams was the producer, Bob was originally from Flint, but had been a theater producer in New York City for several years. He was producing children's theater in New York City, but came to the Musical Tent many summers to produce summer stock theater. There were so many stars I don't remember many of them, in addition to those mentioned above there was Hal March. The summer I worked their they produced A funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum and Oklahoma in addition to nine other shows.
It was my first real job. I hired and directed the ushers and usherettes; I kept the tent in shape and kept the grounds clean; I kept the storm sewers working and shot off the fireworks. Like others I can attest to the youthfulness of the local staff; I didn't do much driving; but I was 16 at the time.
If you have any photos, I would love to see them. I have some newspaper clippings from the Flint Journal.
There was a parallel universe in Farmington Hills, Michigan where there was another Musical Tent.ReplyDelete
My Nanna now eighty sang and danced at the Tent in 1957 season. She also made friends with some Hamady children. Do you know of any memrobelia sites?Delete
Sitting here with my mom, she was watching Guys and Dolls ave was telling me about the Musical Tent, her time as an intern there, and this being the 1st show she worked. Sounded amazing. Children could greatly benefit from such iconic culture these days.Delete
I recently saw the production of Buffalo Gal at CMU, and that got me thinking about the Musical Tent. I grew up in Bay City, and my parents took me to several productions there in Pine Run. The one I remember most clearly was Romeo and Juliet. I had recently gotten my drivers' license, so this had to have been in 1966 or 1967. My parents allowed me to drive my dad's car to the performance and take my younger sisters. At some point during the performance, it started pouring rain, and that sound on the tent made it impossible to hear the actors. After a few minutes, the rain let up, and someone announced that the cast would re-perform the scene that couldn't be heard. We all applauded, and the rest of the play continued uninterrupted.ReplyDelete
I certainly enjoyed reading all these memories!
Please... if anyone has photos from the Musical Tent, please send me copies! My mom designed the program covers, and our friend worked in the box office, so I spent the summers of '66 and '67 as a regular fixture there, day and night. I was also in The King & I as one of the Siamese children. I was seven and eight during those Summers, and, as many will attest, they were the best years of my childhood. If you have pictures from The Tent, please share! Keep watching, I will make a FB page for The Tent! Please send pics to Robin DeLisle on FB, or to my email at email@example.com. Thank you!ReplyDelete
This may be too long after the fact of the initial request, but here goes: my buddy and I got hired at the Musical Tent the day after we graduated from Central High School in 1957 at $1/hr. The business manager was Ruth Frieling. I have thought all along that this was the first year of the Tent as we were put to work digging a ditch from the motel just built on the rear of the property up to the tent proper. This was back-breaking work. The orchestra pit had just been dug in the wet clay and another of our tasks was to slap paint onto the concrete blocks walling in the pit ahead of the ever-leaking water that seeped in between the blocks. There were some fine stage actors there as well as some semi-has-been screen actors making comebacks in the straw hat circuit. One I recall was John Ireland in Mister Roberts. Wish I could remember the lead actor that year: the devil in Damn Yankees, for one role. Our band and orchestra director at Flint Central, Bruce Robart, was concertmaster in the pit orchestra. A New York choreographer there was the very flamboyant Alex Palermo. Those were fine and heady days when ditch-digging was out introduction to show business!ReplyDelete
Chuck Totten, January 25, 2017
Just stumbled across this website, but I thought I would add to the memories I was one of the stage managers in summer 1958. The tent operated in both Flint (Clio) and Detroit (Botsford Inn); two weeks in each venue, with two separate casts. Bob Adams (father of Brooke Adams) was the producer, Jay Harnick (brother of Sheldon of Fiddler fame) and Milt Lyons were the directors. The only star to come out of the regular casts as far as I know was Kenneth Mars (the Production Stage Mgr). Our company performed Oklahoma, The Mikado, King & I, and, strangely enough, Girl Crazy (on ice, staring Dick Button--Olympic champ). Alex Palermo was the choreographer and we had a female conductor, whose name escapes me. Throughout the season of 1958, we always feared that the tents were going to shut down, but we completed the season. The worst guest artist of the season was Joyce Randolph of Honeymooners fame--proving that the less the talent, the more demanding they become.Delete
Chuck, thank you so much for the great memories. Ditch digging is a great metaphor for a lot of careers, like journalism.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure anyone is still interested, and I thought that I had already posted this, but I don't see it. At any rate, in 1958 I was a stage manager, and there were two locations, one in Clio and one at The Botsford Inn in Detroit. The casts rotated every two weeks. Milt Lyon and Jay Harnick (brother of Sheldon of Fiddler fame) were the directors. Our company did Oklahoma, The King & I, The Mikado and Girl Crazy (on ice and starring Dick Button). Can't remember the other productions. The only people in our company who went on to fame were Jane Connell (Auntie Name and other Broadway), and the guy who was our production stage manager (can't remember his name now). Bob Adams was the producer and is now more famous as the father of Brooke Adams. We had a number of guest artists, the worst being Joyce Randolph (Honeymooners)--proving that the less the talent, the worse the person. Can't believeReplyDelete
Actually, the Musical Tent was on Clio Road. I believe there's a car dealership on the site now. I believe it was founded by Robert Adams (if I remember his name correctly). Instead of theater seats, we sat in lawn chairs. At intermission, everyone would walk around the tent. Because of the tent it had almost a circus-like atmosphere.ReplyDelete
My parents had season tickets for a number of years, and I saw many shows there. Robert Morse, who just died, appeared in his hit, How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. I had the job one year of repainting the aisle numbers, and got to see many rehearsals.
It was wonderful.