Local theatre enthusiasts gathered this week to see former Wildcat and published playwright Richard Broadhurst perform readings of two of his plays to raise funds for renovations on Manhattan High School’s theater. The readings took place on Monday at the Manhattan Arts Center and on Tuesday at The Purple Masque Theatre.
The performances featured local actors, including MHS students. By Tuesday afternoon, the fundraiser had brought in $1,400 for the Manhattan-Ogden Public Schools Foundation.
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Broadhurst, who is also an MHS Wall of Fame honoree, said he found his love for theatre as a student at MHS before graduating in 1964.
“I liked the live aspect of it,” Broadhurst said. “The audience becomes almost like a cast member. It can really effect how the play is done, and any given night I might change. … you never know what’s going to happen.”
Broadhurst often visits his hometown of Manhattan.
“I think I like coming back because I love the geography; it’s a beautiful part of the country,” Broadhurst said. “And I love the people. They’re just genuinely warm people that I like being around. I also like working with young people, so it’s fun to come back and go by [MHS] and work with the students.”
Linda Uthoff, drama instructor at MHS, said she and her students have worked with Broadhurst multiple times in past years, this week’s readings being the fifth time.
“He just really has a knack for working with young people and developing their ideas and giving them confidence in their writing,” Uthoff said. “That’s really cool when you see people get excited like that.”
Broadhurst attended K-State as a music student but left before graduating to pursue a career in professional theatre. He has had his plays produced in cities such as New York City; Los Angeles; Sacramento, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota, and more.
The funds raised by the performances will go toward renovations on MHS’s Rezac Auditorium. Jim Morrison, president of the Manhattan-Ogden Public School Foundation Board of Directors, said $114,000 has been raised for the project, which has a goal of $150,000.
“We’re redoing all of the cabling, camera and remote monitoring, creating some new entrance ways, replacing the stage floor, curtain riggings and projection systems,” Morrison said.
Those interested in donating to the Manhattan-Ogden Public Schools Foundation can contact Jim Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.