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Paradise Playhouse names artistic director with changes afoot for more offerings

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New artistic/entertainment director at Paradise Playhouse Dinner Theatre and Events Center, Andy Tyhurst said he envisions big plans for the theater as he changes the theater focus, expands its reach, and builds future audiences by adding some new features and working toward the venue providing entertainment 52 weeks a year.

Paradise Entertainment announced on Saturday, Feb. 15 that they have named a replacement for the previous Artistic/Entertainment Director, Roger Cress Hewitt, who stepped down from his position at the end of the Paradise production of Whose Wives Are They Anyway.

Hewitt, who had been with the theatre for nearly 13 years, resigned stating that he wished to help an area community theatre get back on their feet, a press release stated.

“Cress was instrumental in getting the theatre reopened when we acquired it back in 2011. We wish him the best of luck in all of his new endeavors,” Jim Dickers, Paradise president and CEO stated.

Prior to Hewitt’s departure, the theatre was set to announce that Andy Tyhurst would be joining Paradise as the Director of Special Productions. Paradise had been looking to become more involved in community outreach and provide a greater variety of entertainment options for patrons to enjoy, a spokesman said.

“When the Artistic/Entertainment Director position became vacant, Andy expressed interest in the position. It was quite clear after several discussions with him that he was a perfect fit,” Maurice Oelklaus, from Paradise stated.

Next up for Paradise Playhouse, Unnecessary Farce, opens March 21 and runs, weekends through April 12.

"I am honored and frankly ecstatic about working with Paradise Playhouse and looking forward to meeting everyone I can in the community," Tyhurst said. "We will continue to serve our main stage season ticket holders with the hilarious comedies they've grown to expect. The changes will be adding more shows, musicals and special events so that on any given weekend, Paradise Playhouse Dinner Theatre & Events Center is hosting quality entertainment while providing great food and a fun atmosphere for our guests."

Tyhurst comes to Paradise with a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre and Cinema from Missouri Western University. He brings a unique perspective to Paradise having done writing, acting and producing for both stage and screen.

Tyhurst brings strong acting credentials to his new position. He has appeared in such theatrical productions as Annie, Romeo and Juliet and Laughter on the 23rd Floor and he can be recognized in a television commercial or on a billboard.

Further, he served as the Sales and Box Office Manager for the Western Playhouse where in the theatre’s inaugural season he was able to obtain over $10,000 in corporate sponsorships. This not only resulted in a successful opening season but it laid a foundation for future development which is still seen in the theatre’s success today, the spokesman said.

An announcement for the upcoming season is expected any day, but Tyhurst indicated that producing a musical for the local supporters looms on the horizon. Although not finalized, Tyhurst said one of the shows under consideration, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change may usher in a recurring musical tradition.

Besides the musical, Tyhurst said he wants to present some famous playwright’s works such as Neil Simon, Woody Allen, and others.

“It’s important to produce shows that will draw more attention and patrons to our venue,” Tyhurst said.

Also, a murder-mystery night and a children’s show may soon crop up on the theater’s agenda, he said.

“I have been most busy getting the theatre streamlined so we can operate more weekends,” Tyhurst said. “In laymen terms, I am cleaning and reorganizing. So, the actual play selection has been on temporary hold. We will announce the added shows opening night of our next show Unnecessary Farce opening March 21. We're close. I'm just budgeting and talking to directors.”

In the time since beginning his new position, Tyhurst said he had already made a ton of changes. For starters, the first public audition begins soon for our next show, Tyhurst said. Casts and directors were previously hand-picked and former artistic director, but now allow all interested directors, actors and striving actors to audition or direct.

“This gorgeous venue has never staged a musical and our customer base wants and deserves one” Tyhurst said. He indicated that the process began to license a musical for later this summer.

Patrons to the theater will see new furniture and props per show.

“We have a new partnership with the Good Samaritan Center whereas we are donating all furniture we have in the theatre in exchange for me going back and borrowing what we need show to show. So, in essence, someone could donate a recliner and see it on stage later,” he said.

In addition, Tyhurst intends to add more theatrical shows, concerts, limited engagements such as a Murder Mystery Night and Children's shows. He said he also wants to host some revues and a "Late Night" shows for those who enjoy more provocative plays but still yearn for the dinner-theatre experience.

“In reality, Paradise Playhouse needs to someday operate 52 weekends a year in an effort to grow and better serve our customers here. I also want to attract new visitors from all over. So we have a lot of work to do to get near that. It’s both exciting and challenging, and I am so anxious to meet this challenge,” Tyhurst said.

For more information on Paradise Playhouse, visit www.paradiseplayhouse.org or visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/paradiseplayhouse .

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