Spinning Tree Theatre co-founders Michael Grayman and Andy Parkhurst met in Milan, Italy in 1997, performing on the European tour of West Side Story. Michael was based in Los Angeles at the time; Andy, in New York City. Immediate friends, their next opportunity to work together was in 2003 on the Broadway tour of Mamma Mia! They became a couple, and realized they had several dreams in common. The first was to transition to directing (Michael) and choreography (Andy), which they did in 2005-2006. They collaborated on several projects, and knew they wanted to share the creative (and challenging) process of staging shows together as often as possible. On New Year’s Day 2010, they committed to another dream: that of starting a small professional theatre company.
But where? New York City, their current home, had more than enough small professional theatre companies, and the costs of producing plays and musicals there are practically prohibitive. Kansas City seemed the perfect choice – Andy grew up here and had established and maintained many working contacts through years of visiting as a guest choreographer.
Michael and Andy made the move from NYC to KC late August 2010. They contacted Kansas City Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts and by October had incorporated Spinning Tree Theatre (movement = branches; strength = roots; diversity = leaves). 501(c)3 not-for-profit status, with further help from KCVLAA, came just in time for their inaugural production, Make Me a Song: The Music of William Finn, in April 2011.
Andy and Michael work daily on digging deeper into their dream, and commit to producing high-quality theatre (commensurate with their years of professional experience) in Kansas City. They choose material about which they are passionate; they work from an aesthetic of theatre that treats fellow artists (actors, designers, musicians) and audience as intellectual and creative collaborators.