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For more than 25 years, the Theatre at the Center has been committed to offering high-quality productions.

As the only professional theater in Northwest Indiana, the organization accomplishes its mission of bringing “disciplines of the performing arts that are at once appealing, educational and accessible to the entire community.”

“We have top quality people,” said Richard Friedman, general manager at the Theatre at the Center, which operates at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster.

It has five mainstage performances each year. “Miracle on 34th Street The Musical,” inspired by the 1947 film, is the current on, running through Dec. 23.

Friedman touts the Theatre at the Center 's affordable ticket prices and intimate setting. None of the 410 seats is farther than 30 feet from the stage. He added that it's easily accessible, with free parking.

Besides constructing sets for its productions and running its own costume shop, Theatre at the Center also builds sets for other troupes and organizations, including the South Shore Convention & Visitors Authority, Friedman said.

Friedman said says the nonprofit relies on a variety of funding methods besides ticket sales to help cover its costs. That includes volunteers, contributions, sponsorships and grants from the Indiana Arts Commission and other groups. The Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana also is a major supporter.

Those interested in helping the organization can do so by becoming a Friend of the Theatre. By contributing $50 or more, donor names will appear in all programs. Friends also are invited to the organization's annual Mainstage Season Preview Party. A donation of $100 or more includes that and an invitation to “Behind the Scenes,” a session with the theater's artistic director and special guests.

Besides bringing professional shows to the Region, the Theatre also does its part to benefit others. During holiday shows, for example, it collects funds for Season of Concern, a support program for Chicago area theater professionals facing catastrophic illnesses.

“Most years our generous audiences donate over $15,000,” Friedman said.

He said the Theatre at the Center also issues hundreds of subsidized tickets to school children and service organizations for its mainstage and Theatre for Young Audiences shows.

“In some cases we can also help play for bus transportation to school groups with limited resources,” Friedman said.

That's on top of the ticket vouchers provided to hundreds of causes and organizations to be used in silent auctions and raffles.

Scholarships are available for youngsters to participate in classes for the Theatre for Young Audiences program, Friedman said. And the Theatre at the Center has collaborated with area schools to train students interested in  technical theater careers, he said.

Each June, the Theatre at the Center works with Heartland to host a blood drive.

For information about the Theatre at the Center, tickets and its fundraising and charitable efforts, visit www.theatreatthecenter.com or call 219-836-3255.

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