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RiverCenter’s project to launch national tour will pump $1.5 million into local economy

Role in “Something Rotten” helps actress turn “...a year of noes” into summer of success

Emily Kristen Morris portrays Bea in the national touring production of "Something Rotten!". The company has been at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts preparing for the tour, which has its first public performance Wednesday Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
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Emily Kristen Morris portrays Bea in the national touring production of "Something Rotten!". The company has been at RiverCenter for the Performing Arts preparing for the tour, which has its first public performance Wednesday Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

The production company for the national tour of “Something Rotten!” has arrived at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts to prepare for its 32-week national tour, which will have its first public performance on Wednesday.

Work Light Productions is spending 12 days in Columbus and bringing a cast and crew of ultimately over 150 individuals. The production will employ more than 50 people — from costumers to electricians and carpenters. RiverCenter administration worked for well over a year to find the right schedule, title and production company with which to work for this first venture.

“This is a very special opportunity for RiverCenter to support the economic growth of our region,” said RiverCenter’s Executive Director and CEO Norm Easterbrook. “Simply put, these 12 short days of this project will result in over $1.5 million of new economic activity for Columbus. This activity illustrated in the most direct and obvious way the contribution that RiverCenter makes to our economy on an ongoing basis.”

Only a very few venues around the country can support the launch of a national tour of this size and scope due to scheduling conflicts or cumbersome use and vendor agreements. Further, though the producers were not able to take advantage this year of the sales tax incentives, Georgia offers a sales tax incentive to producers of musical tours that originate in Georgia.

Easterbrook hopes that he can work with local elected state officials to revisit the legislation to make it easier for this type of production not just for the RiverCenter, but also for other venues around the state.

“Our hope is that our friends with Work Light Productions have a very productive and positive experience this first time out and that they will return in years to come. This will mean more employment for area theatre technicians and stage workers and greater access for the community to truly professional theatre productions,” Easterbrook said. “RiverCenter was not simply created as a building. RiverCenter Inc. was founded to actively support the growth of the performing arts in our region and to engage in new and innovative ways to increase economic development. Providing jobs, increasing traffic in our downtown area, bringing visitors and production workers to stay in our hotels, increasing the demand for supplies and materials needed to support production all are part of meeting that goal. This means risk taking on new projects and building new relationships. We couldn’t be happier with this start.

The show premiers Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are now on sale at the RiverCenter box office, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and one hour prior to the performance, and online at www.rivercenter.org. For additional information, call 706-256-3612.

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