Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



Merrimack Repertory Theatre held its 30th Anniversary Gala this past Friday on June 12. It was a smashing success, with over 300 attendees dancing the night away, even after the music stopped! As well as being a successful fundraiser, the Gala also provided the theatre an opportunity to honor those who made professional theatre in the Merrimack Valley possible over the past 30 years.

dance1After a cocktail hour in the Hall of Flags, the party moved inside to the main hall of Lowell Memorial Auditorium, where guests were treated to some unique and tasty dining options, including mashed potatoes topped with steak or lamb served in martini glasses, and ice cream lollipops for dessert. The dancing started early, as the Stardust Band closed out the pre-show entertainment with their rendition of “What a Wonderful World.”


The main program for the evening began with the co-chairs of the Friends of MRT, Jim Brunelle and Alison Kalman, introducing Artistic Director Charles Towers and Executive Director Tom Parrish, who thanked the theatre’s past presidents and sponsors before turning the evening over to Master of Ceremonies Senator Steven Panagiotakos. Senator Panagiotakos noted that Merrimack Repertory Theatre has played a major role in the city of Lowell’s revitalization over the past 30 years, as the city has grown into a haven for the arts. Lowell Mayor Bud Caulfield presented a citation to the theatre in honor being in only professional performing arts organization in the Greater Lowell Region. He then presented the key to the city of Lowell to one Merrimack Rep’s past presidents, Nancy Donahue.


Nancy had her own surprise presentation to make, as she awarded the first Friends of MRT service award to Gloria Leahy. Gloria has been with the theatre from the start, both as one of the first subscribers and first volunteers. In the early days of the theatre she would even house actors in her home. The Friends of MRT service award will be called the Gloria Leahy Award in her honor.

Laiona Michelle
Laiona Michelle

Next up was the 30 year retrospective video, which covered the 30 year history of Merrimack Rep from its founding to the current day. Members of audience relived key moments from the past through pictures of shows and special events, and applauded for some of their favorites. After the video, Senator Panagiotakos recognized each of the 11 past presidents of Merrimack Rep. Then he introduced Laiona Michelle, star of 2007’s Dinah Was, MRT’s highest grossing production of all time. Laiona nearly blew the roof off the building with her powerful versions of “What a Difference A Day Makes,” “This Bitter Earth,” “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “I Don’t Hurt Anymore.” After her encore, she turned the entertainment over to the Stardust Band, who kept the crowd on the dance floor until the Gala ended at 11PM when they closed the night with “Don’t Stop Believing,” a fitting song for an organization has that persevered through many challenges to become one of the strongest regional theatres in the country.

Thanks for everyone who helped make Merrimack Rep’s 30 Anniversary Gala a success, our 30 year subscribers, and our 11 past presidents: Nancy Donahue, John Duff, Richard Bournival, Richard Dobroth, Jack O’Connor, Nicola Tsongas, Michael Gallagher, Carol Duncan, Robert McDonald, Edward Moloney, and Lincoln Pinsky.  

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