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VALPARAISO — Business is booming for the Memorial Opera House in its 125th year with no sign of letting up, Executive Director Scot MacDonald said.

Season ticket sales are brisk.

“We are predicting our sales numbers will be double what they were in 2014,” MacDonald said.

Sales this year are on track to reach $70,000, compared to $35,000 four years ago, he said.

“The demographic is trending younger, and that’s also very, very exciting for us,” MacDonald said.

Customers in their 30s and 40s are becoming common in audiences, a sign that community theater isn’t going to fade away.

At the Memorial Opera House, the box office staff “make sure every person they talk to gets that personal touch,” he said.

Selection of shows is important, but so is the personal touch.

“I think it’s also very, very important to give that high level of customer service that they don’t see much anymore,” MacDonald said. “You don’t get into the city and get that kind of treatment.”

Front of House Manager Stacy Ruiz “knows every one of our patrons by name,” he said. “She knows every single person beyond Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

That helps the staff formulate what people want to see, MacDonald said.

Getting more involved in community, including free previews for at-risk youth, also has made a difference, he said.

The children’s theater program “has grown immensely in the last year and a half. That thing has become a major revenue-driver for us.”

“It’s a Wonderful Life, the Musical,” will be presented Nov. 30 to Dec. 16. It’s already two-thirds sold out, and it isn’t even cast yet, MacDonald said.

Shows in 2019, include “Shrek, the Musical,” “La Cage Aux Folles,” “Mama Mia, “The Mousetrap” and Miracle on 34th Street.

“We’re the first in this Northwest Indiana area to get our claws in (Mama Mia), and we are thrilled,” MacDonald said.

“It’s a great way to celebrate our 125th anniversary, with success,” he said. “It’s kind of high excitement for us, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon.”

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Porter County Government Reporter

Senior reporter Doug Ross, an award-winning writer, has been covering Northwest Indiana for more than 35 years, including more than a quarter of a century at The Times.