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About Master Arts

mission statement, history, affiliations
Master Arts Theatre Mission Statement 

To positively impact West Michigan artists and audiences through community theater that is wholesome, enlightening, and enriching guided by a Christian worldview

1. Christian Perspective. The Master in Master Arts is Christ. As an organization, we are explicitly committed to performance art that is glorifying to God. This influences the scripts we choose, the venues in which we perform, the classes that we offer, and the way in which we conduct all of our activities.
2. Quality Performance. Our standard of excellence is formed by our desire to honor our Creator and by the rigors of maintaining artistic credibility in the community. This standard affects every aspect of the artistic process--training, rehearsals, performances, and management.
3. A Nurturing Community. Both experienced and emerging artists are pro-actively encouraged and supported in the development of their talents. An inclusive, community atmosphere guides our training and production activities.
4. Church and Community. Master Arts seeks to be a bridge between the arts and the church, providing training, resources, and expertise in drama. We partner with other organizations and ministry efforts in the area.

Master Arts offers four main stage shows per year, a summer stage production and two summer youth productions. In addition to our stage productions, we offer summer camps for youth, regular classes for children through adults, and a number of touring troupes that perform in a variety of venues.

Master Arts has been active in dramatic arts ministry since 1985.

History Highlights 



In 1985, nine people sitting in a living room had a dream: A community arts organization that could provide preparation and opportunities for local Christian artists to serve the church and community through the visual and performing arts.

With a typewriter on a card table for Ev Beyer (in whose home this dream began) and a sectional sofa as a working area for Pris McDonald, Master Arts Company began its unique ministry.


Touring Troupes

During the first year, two touring troupes were formed. The first was called "The Parable” performed by Dave Taylor, Nancy Goodrich, Dan Denk, and Pris McDonald; and made its debut at Grace Youth Camp near Hart, Michigan. The second troupe was a Readers Theatre Christmas production entitled "Emmanuel” which was performed in several churches that first year.

Touring Troupes still active today.
Click Here for More Information on the Touring Troupes


Street Theatre

First Street Theatre troupe performed.
Street Theatre still very active today.

Click Here for More Information on Street Theatre

1987 Pris McDonald appointed as Executive Director – has served ever since. 

Workshops & Classes

First monthly "Workshop Training Session” for interested artists. 
Master Arts still provides Fall and Winter Classes in Drama.

Click Here for More Information on our Fall and Winter Class Schedules


Master Arts Festivals

First of three annual area wide Master Arts Festivals was held.
First stage play produced by Master Arts as part of the Festival:

The Book of Job
arranged for the stage by Orlin Corey
designed by Irene Corey
and directed by Pris McDonald

1991 College credit was offered for "Mime” & "Directing Church Drama” courses. 

Arts Day Camp

First five-day Arts Day Camp held for youth. These camps have been offered each year since, introducing children to the joys of participation in Mime, Drama, Dance, and Visual Art.

Arts Day Camp has been held every year since.
Click Here for More Information on Youth Summer Schedule

1992 First stage play produced for public (no Festival):

Fiddler on the Roof
book by Joseph Stein, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by: Jerry Bock,
based on Sholom Aleichem's stories by special permission of Arnold Perl
and directed by Pris McDonald

One or more productions offered yearly ever since.
Click Here for More Information about What is in Currently in Production

or Click Here to see the list of plays produced since 1989


Grand Village Mall

Moved to Grand Village Mall – performed

J.R.R. Tolkien's
The Hobbit
dramatized by Patricia Gray
directed by Pris McDonald

The Hobbit was performed to full houses with additional performances needed. 


Youth Summer Stock

First two-week Youth Summer Stock program by and for youth. These are two week summer stock programs, offering training in all aspects of the production, including box office, costuming, make up, lighting and sound, as well as performing in a full length stage play. The first program was:

dramatized by Kristin Sergel
from the stories of A.A. Milne

Youth Summer Stock now offered yearly.
Click Here for More Information on Youth Summer Schedule


Season One

First year for a schedule of four productions per year
– special rates for Season Subscribers.

Fall - The Music Man
Christmas - Amahl and the Night Visitors
Winter - Tartuffe
Spring - Shadowlands

Click Here for More Information about Season Subscriptions

1999 The Mall was sold. Continued operating in an office on Baldwin Street, Jenison. 

75 - 77th St SW

Renovated a facility located at 75 Vee Street SW in Grand Rapids, MI. Opened new theater with:

based on the comic strip "PEANUTS" by Charles M. Schulz
music by Larry Grossman, lyrics by Hal Hackady
directed by Pris McDonald
assistant director/choreographer Cassie Holmes

Eventually the street name was changed to 77th St SW


Second Stage
(Now called Summer Stage)

Summer of 2003, Master Arts started Second Stage. Second Stage was designed to do things we would normally not do on the main stage. These include activities such as performing pieces we would like to use as traveling teams, repeating shows Master Arts has done in the past and would like to do again, experimenting with something new, and training new directors. The first Second Stage was Leslie Nadwodnik's directorial debut:

The Sunshine Boys
written by Neil Simon
directed by Leslie Nadwodnik

2003 A long time dream for Master Arts became a reality on Friday, November 14th, when the Board signed the final papers to purchase the current location at 75 77th St SW. Master Arts had been operating and performing in borrowed, rented or leased space since its beginning in 1985. The acquisition of our own facility provided permanency and set the stage for great possibilities for the future.

20th Anniversary Celebration
with Jeannette Clift George

Jeannette Clift George is the founder of A.D. Players. Her film debut was in the World Wide Picture The Hiding Place, portraying Corrie Ten Boom. Ms. George is equally well-known as an author, playwright, Bible teacher and national speaker.
Special Guest Speaker: Diet Eman

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Winter Youth Production

Noticing the growing interest by youth to perform in a play and the choice of plays with minimal youth parts, Master Arts decided to began a Winter Youth Production, March 2009.  The goal of the Winter Youth Production is to involve as many youth as possible. The first was

Doctor Dolittle
by Hugh Lofting
dramatized by Olga Fricker
directed by Walter Williams

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  Region III AACTFest Theatre Competition

Master Arts’ production of Smoke on the Mountain represented Michigan in the Region III AACTFest theatre competition. They competed with eight other theatres from 5 states: Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan. The competition was held in Southbend, Indiana April 17-19, 2009. Smoke on the Mountain won Second Place at the Region III AACTFest 2009 Competition
Smoke on the Mountain cast members also received the following awards:
The Excellence in Ensemble Acting
Smoke on the Mountain Cast
The Excellence in Directing
Pris McDonald
The Outstanding Performance in a Principle Role
Chris Knobloch as Dennis Sanders
The Outstanding Performance in a Minor Role
Pat Kennedy
The Outstanding Performance in a Minor Role
Phyllis Krombeen

25th Anniversary

Master Arts celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a three day event, August 28 - 30, 2010.

Pig Roast, Games and Special Performances:


Family Feud, where the categories were Master Arts oriented. i.e. "How many Master Arts productions used live animals?"

A special performance of "The Parable" by Dave Taylor, Dan Denk, Nancy Goodrich and Pris McDonald. This was the first piece ever performed under the umbrella of Master Arts and these were the four who performed it then.

Praise Celebration

Special Guest Speaker: Paul Patton, Spring Arbor University

Challenge Golf Tournament


At the Highlands!

Winner of our first Golf Challenge: Team of Jim Rummil, Randy Mietland and Roy Black

Click Here for Pictures of the Building:

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MAT Affiliations:

Community Theatre Association of Michigan (CTAM)

Christians In Theatre Arts (CITA)

Contact us!


"Thank you very much for a very moving and entertaining presentation. Your stories added so much to our luncheon."
Mary Tracey, Ladies Literary Club, Grandville.

"My wife and I were deeply moved by all facets of your presentation. We want to thank you for reviving the wonder and awe of what occurred on Good Friday."
Pastor John Romanosky, Sullivan Community Church, Ravenna, MI

"The five volunteers... were wonderful. They put on an excellent show. The prisoners really enjoyed the show and how they became involved by the volunteers, allowing them to participate."
Bill Morrow, Program Director, Deerfield Correctional Facility

"Thank you so much for putting on day camp. I enjoyed it a lot! I learned so much and had fun in the process. I was sad when it ended..."
P.S. Please thank all the teachers.
Casey Caraway

"We had the Master Arts here last night and they are awesome! Everything Lynn... said is true about this group. What a great program and wonderful people to work with..."
An email sent after a program at the Walker KDL Library

"Thank you so much for donating your time and talents to help make our 10th Birthday at the zoo a success."
Nancy, Western Michigan Ronald McDonald House

"The group did a great job, especially involving the children. One of our board members was so impressed, she offered to pay the... fee."
Christian Reformed Recreation Center.

"We were deeply moved by your presence at our Sunday Service at Moline CRC. We truly felt God's presence though your performance."

"I would just like to thank you so much for the program that was done for our Mother-Daughter Banquet at First Cutlerville CRC. The entire process from my first inquiry to the final booking and performance was handled with such courtesy and professionalism."
Laurie Bosma

"I just had to let you know--Master Arts sets a standard of excellence that gave us all a target to shoot for.'
Ray Allore

"We wanted to thank you for coming to be part of the Festival de Jesus at Roosevelt Park Community CRC... We appreciate your participation."

"Thank you very much for the wonderful performance given at our Annual Family Picnic at Indian Trails Park... All of our families reported they had a wonderful time... and thoroughly enjoyed your performance."
Char Greer, Area Child Amputee Center

"On behalf of Wedgwood Christian Services, I'd like to thank you for helping to make our jubilee... a great success. You were an encouragement to both our clients and staff who attended your session."
Pastor Patrick O'Donnell, Chaplin, Wedgwood Christian Services.

I was a guest at the 9/28th production of Oliver; a first timer. The children were delightful and so well trained in their craft, especially Oliver.
I especially enjoyed the back dropped scenery and music. The adults were true to their roles but as many professional actors have stated; children always steal the scenes.
Thank you for a fun evening.
Gwen Powers

"Just a note of PRAISE for your production of Stand and Deliver! In recent months I have been to plays at... (He listed a number of theaters) Your cast, by comparison, was OUTSTANDING in their awesome performance. I was greatly impressed with their passion and great delivery. I was moved by the story, of course, but also by the cast with their great talent in making the text truly come alive before our eyes and ears. High praise to you and all of the cast for al of their dedication and their time in making such a wonderful experience for your audience."
Ken Kruisenga, 2/22/14

Thank you so much for an evening cruise for Death Ahoy. We had a great time and I've only heard positive comments.
Beth Swan, Berean Woman's Ministry, Berean, Church, Muskegon, MI

About Street Theatre

As this was our 1st experience with your troupe, we didn’t know what to expect. We were delighted, blown away and will be writing another grant for a visit next year. Thank you!

Breton Downs Elementary

"For the past several years, one thing I always look forward to is Youth Summer Stock. Each year keeps getting better and better. During Summer Stock, I had an amazing time and made friends who I will never forget. I grew as an actor and relished the chance to create a whole new character. I can tell you for sure I am disappointed that this year was my last year. However, the memories and experiences will stick with me forever."
Jonathon Burns, Youth Summer Stock 2007

"I hope Master Arts is continuing to give as many blessing to others as it did for me. You gave me an opportunity to witness in a form very comfortable to me. And I will always remember the times we shared."
Ellen Lovely

"Thank you so much for having me in the show! It was one of the high points of my semester"

"I have had many personal troubles over the last six years and I have never felt more supported and ministered to as I have through the people and the mission of Master Arts. I know that without this support, my life struggles may have been unsurpassable--and it is my firm belief that God allowed me to walk through the doors of Master Arts to find the healing and growth I needed to overcome some difficult situations."

"Thank you for the world of theater – you opened a new door in my life."
Elizabeth Joy McDaniel

"You have given much to me and my family... great drama, opportunities to participate and support: deep life ling friendships: and strengthen walk with God."
From a newsletter sent December 1995

"The opportunities I've had here have filled the 'something missing' in my life. I am thankful every day that God led me to Master Arts."
From a newsletter sent December 1995

"This is a nurturing, challenging place where I have experienced the joy of working with people who create a quality product and share the love of Christ doing it. In many ways, Master Arts is more than a company--it's a family.
From a newsletter sent December 1995

The Theater
"We appreciate the fact that we never have to worry that there will be anything inappropriate said or done on stage... We also like the intimacy of the small theater..."
Gary and Maxine Kuipers

From an article entitled: Too Much Profanity, Nudity in Theater
"It seems the only theatrical company that believes in productions where the quality of writing does not need artificial "enhancement" is Master Arts Theatre. A patron can be assured of entertainment without embarrassment."
The Grand Rapids Press, Thursday, March 28, 2002, Joyce M. Abbgy

"Master Arts affords the artist the arena in which to grapple with the grassroots of our faith. This safe place which allows this exploration serves as a catalyst for the deepening of our faith through the medium of the arts. The freedom to explore ideas and thought, and even religious beliefs in new and creative ways serves to deepen the meaning that lies hidden in them. That creative freedom is life to the artist. That is the way the artist deepens his or her faith. That is the way he or she is drawn to the Source --God."
Julie Henshaw

"John and I were talking last night about what a great time Abby has had doing Cheaper by the Dozen and how much we appreciate the environment Master Arts provides. I have had no problems dropping her off knowing that the people that she is with there and the leadership are healthy and wholesome... Thank you... for your leadership and for providing an opportunity for young actors to gain valuable experience in a wonderful Christian atmosphere."
Marty LaBarge

"We're so thankful for Master Arts Theatre, for the positive, Christian mentors who work there whom our son has had the privilege of studying under. MAT is a safe place to explore your theatrical interests. It is a caring community of people and the staff chooses wholesome, family-friendly scripts to perform. Thank you for your vision of what a community theatre could be and for making the vision a reality."
Ken and Heidi Trumble

"A great big 'thank you' from Word of Faith, and me personally, for your continuing dedication to see Christ lifted up though the medium of the performing arts."
Ray Allore, Wolf Drama

"To have the opportunity to minister through the medium of drama is a humbling and awesome experience."
From a newsletter sent December 1995