ESCANABA — Beginning tonight, the Players de Noc theater group will take their audience on a special ride through 50 years of the group’s history.

In 1965, a small group of people from Bay de Noc Community College in Escanaba started the Players de Noc theater group. And five decades later, it’s become the premier show in the area.

“We’ve done over 233 productions over 50 years. We’ve had 1300 people involved on stage, backstage or under the stage. We’ve performed at least 1200 shows live in the area for people and we’ve had over 200,000 people come see our shows over the last 50 years,” Director Jeff Woerpel said.

Their upcoming show will feature a special behind the scenes look at several musicals, including stories about the performers’ experiences. So how do you prepare for such a big show?

“We’ve been rehearsing about five nights a week. And then depending on what numbers you were in at that point, you’d schedule to come in. So we’ve all been really concentrating on rehearsals since early January,” performer Cathy Wilson said.

“There are lots of different talents that are used in theater…not only acting on stage but musicians under the stage for musicals and we have people that build the sets and paint the sets. We have people that make the costumes and like to do sound and makeup and all kinds of different kinds of experiences that people come and have fun with,” said Woerpel.

For a show to go on for 50 years, there has to be support within the local community for it and the performers are well aware of that impact.

“That’s been huge. We have season ticket holders that come back every year and visit with us. The community has given us a lot of support over the years. All of our ticket sales money is plowed back into the group. We buy lights, drops and all kinds of things,” said performer Jimmy Bruce.

For information on show times and tickets, click here.