Native of Inwood, theater company run by her husband | New


SIOUX FALLS, SD—Tami Grosvenor began spotlighting the musical theater work of her husband, Brent, 25 years ago in what has since become a cross-country career for the creative Christian couple.

“He’s the actor, and I handle all the technical stuff,” said Tami, a 53-year-old Inwood native whose maiden name is Ver Steeg.

She runs the faith-centered non-profit theater Lights Up Productions with Brent, 54.

“I don’t play, I don’t sing, I don’t like being on stage. The actor needed someone to handle all of his stuff, so I learned how to handle all of his stuff,” Tami said.

The Grosvenors began the process of relocating to Sioux Falls, SD a few years ago after residing in Connecticut for 20 years.

The move meant Lights Up Productions — which features nine musicals written by Brent — would have a permanent home in the South Dakota metropolis’ Orpheum Theater Center. It also meant that Tami could live closer to her family members who still lived in N’West Iowa, including her mother who had cancer at the time.

Brent recalls speaking with Sioux Falls Mayor and Sioux Center native Paul TenHaken a little over three years ago about Lights Up moving to the city. TenHaken recommended that the theater company produce a show at the Orpheum to get a feel for the venue.

The Grosvenors took his advice and performed their first performance of the musical “Mystery,” which Brent said was a hit.

This production will once again be on the Orpheum Stage this year, with showtimes set at 7 p.m. Friday-Saturday September 9-10 and Thursday-Saturday September 15-17, and 4 p.m. Sunday September 11-18.

Like some of Brent’s other original shows, “Mystery” has a modern setting while conveying Christian messages.

The musical tells the story of Hollywood actor Sam Zimmer – played by Brent – who embarks on a treasure hunt to find buried gold in Eastern Europe with his archaeologist sister and 12-year-old daughter . Zimmer is an atheist who has faced major tragedies, such as losing his wife to cancer.

The show asks big questions about life and faith, including: Why does God allow suffering? Why does he tolerate that evil exists?

During his journey, Brent’s character meets a Pole whose grandparents were imprisoned in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The Polish man was an atheist, but later he believed in God.

“His story collides with my character’s story, and they all have these debates about the big questions in life,” Brent said. “The two main themes of the story are about wonder – the kind of wonder we all had when we were kids, and the fact that we often lose it as we get older, and we don’t have the same wonder for life and for God.Then the second half of the show deals with the subject of grace and what does grace really mean?What is the biblical definition of grace?

The show has around 10 lead actors and around 25 ensemble members. The cast for this, and other Lights Up shows, consists primarily of residents of the Sioux Falls area, including N’West Iowa.

Although Lights Up produces shows from a Christian perspective, Brent said cast members come from all walks of life and beliefs. The same goes for the spectators who are encouraged to attend the musicals.

He said “Mystery” in particular is a show meant to resonate with people who have faced serious hardships and tragedies in life.

“It’s a good show for them. We don’t shy away from tackling tough topics,” Brent said.

After the show first aired in 2019 at the Orpheum, the Grosvenors performed the show there again the following year. However, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the musical has seen reduced attendance.

Brent Grosvenor sits next to a stature as he and the cast of the ‘Mystery’ musical rehearse a scene from the confessional production. Grosvenor and his Inwood native wife, Tami, will perform the show this month at the Orpheum Theater Center in Sioux Falls, SD.

The Grosvenors still hadn’t fully moved to Sioux Falls in 2021, but the ongoing pandemic meant their venue in Connecticut wasn’t yet open for them to hold their annual Easter show, “The Passion and the Cross. “.

They instead staged the show at the Orpheum that year – which ended up setting a 50-year attendance record for the venue. Lights Up held its final show in Connecticut later in 2021; its transition to Sioux Falls was completed the following January. The theater company performed the Easter show again this year at the Orpheum and drew an even bigger crowd than in 2021.

Lights Up Production celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, though the history of the duo behind it dates back to Tami and Brent’s college years at Northwest University in Kirkland, WA, a suburb of Seattle.

They met in private liberal arts school and each earned their bachelor’s degree in biblical literature. The couple stayed in Seattle for a while after graduation to work in music ministry at a church.

They were also involved in theater productions, although they later moved across the country to New Jersey and became youth ministers. It was there that they had the idea of ​​creating their own theater company. But they took a different approach than most theater companies.

“I’ve always said that we want to create professional, intelligent, highly artistic, thought-provoking musical theater that rivals anything secular,” Brent said.

He added that the aim was also to challenge stereotypes about Christian theater, such as it being “cheesy, nerdy or religious”.

“It doesn’t have to be cheesy or corny. This can be smart and really help people who are trying to figure out, “Is there a God? and ‘What is the meaning of life?’ and ‘Is the Bible Reliable?’ Brent said.

Although he chose not to study it in college, Brent was steeped in the world of music and live theater. He said his original career goal, before becoming a Christian, was to succeed in the New York theater scene.

Brent put his knowledge of musical theater and playwriting to good use in the late 1990s when he and Tami visited his family’s farm near Inwood. Sitting at the piano, he began composing songs for what would become his first original show, “From My Rags to His Riches.”

“It wasn’t my best work, but a lot of people loved it,” Brent said.

The Grosvenors returned to Seattle to produce the first live performance of this solo musical, then took it on the road in 1997. Brent’s second original musical, “Sunday in Manhattan (The Billy Sunday Story)” , told the story of Billy Sunday, a native of Iowa and professional baseball player turned evangelist.

They also took that show on tour and later moved to Connecticut as Lights Up Production established itself. The organization first moved into a church auditorium, which accommodated the company’s ever-growing theater needs.

Lights Up continued to tour the country over the years and even took some shows to Europe.

“It’s been fun to see all the different opportunities come up and see how we haven’t quit full time all these years and grown, and it’s been great,” Brent said.

To date, the Grosvenors are the only full-time employees of Lights Up; everyone who helps with the shows does so as volunteers. They also get help from their eldest daughter, Aria, who studied lighting design in college and works in the lighting industry in Los Angeles.

“In fact, she does our lights for us. It’s quite breathtaking. It’s beautiful lighting,” Brent said.

Their other daughter, Victoria Hunatova, is a missionary in the Czech Republic. She studied music in college and is no stranger to the musical theater scene.

“Victoria was always in the productions. She was on stage and has a beautiful singing voice. Brent was still writing roles for her when she was still living at home,” Tami said.

With a new home for their established theater company, the Grosvenors hope to see Lights Up continue to grow. Brent said the organization has already garnered more interest from sponsors and donors in the region willing to support it financially.

The Grosvenors would also like to be able to hire more workers behind the scenes to help with the technical aspects.

“People’s talents and time are just as important to keep doing what we do. People are hopeless, so many people are struggling and suffering, and we just want to bring the message of hope and the message of Christ to the world through good – really good – art,” Brent said.

“As I said, the Bible is also a work of art. So if God is the original creator, why shouldn’t we be so creative in everything we do? »


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