DATE: April 26, 2017
PR CONTACT: Michael Glicksman,
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7555
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678


Historic matching challenge grant spurs bold initiative to capture $8 contributions during MRT performances

Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has received a $35,000 matching challenge grant from two anonymous donors. It is the largest matching challenge grant in MRT’s 38-year history, and if successful, will bring a total of $70,000 of vital funds to the nonprofit regional theatre company. The money raised will go toward supporting MRT’s Young Company and bringing more students from Lowell, and the wider Merrimack Valley region, to the theatre to enjoy productions.

Rather than targeting large donors, the campaign relies on microdonations of only $8 each. Contributions will be collected at the theatre during the run of the world premiere musical “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend,” which runs April 26 – May 21, and will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the grant. Audience members will have the option to donate at the concessions counter, box office, or a number of other locations in the theatre before and after the performance.

Small Steps toward a Big Impact
MRT’s Development department calculates that, for an average audience size, over the course of a show’s run, each audience member would need to contribute approximately eight dollars in order to reach $35,000, which will be doubled to $70,000 by the two anonymous donors. By drawing on many small contributions, MRT hopes to engage vast swaths of new donors from the ranks of the thousands of theatregoers who see an MRT production each year.

“Microdonations are a powerful force in modern fundraising and philanthropy,” says MRT’s Interim Director of Development Nick Kane. “We see them everywhere—in the political campaigns of Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, for example. Now, with this incredibly generous offer from two major donors, we are in a position to provide an opportunity for supporters at any level whose contributions will make twice the impact. We are all tremendously grateful to these donors for this unique opportunity and having the foresight to engage MRT’s larger audience and surrounding community in support of our educational programs.”

Putting the Money to Work
Recently, MRT has launched an ambitious lineup of initiatives in the development of new stage work—including the Patriot Program, which brings the nation’s top playwrights, directors, designers, and actors to Lowell; and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Middlesex Community College to workshop and develop new plays. MRT is also taking big strides in its educational offerings, including the relaunch of its youth program Young Company, and the expansion in scope of its student matinees, which bring youth from the entire Merrimack Valley to see professional productions at MRT. And of course, MRT continues to produce a seven-play season of mostly new plays and musicals at the highest artistic and technical standards.

“MRT has done unbelievable work in just a few years” says Artistic Director Sean Daniels, who took the company’s helm in 2015. “We’re already functioning like a theatre three or four times our size. With this kind of fundraising, we can do so much more with education, with community partnerships, and with the artists that Lowell has grown to love. The city is becoming a very bright spot on the American theatre map.”

The funds will provide much-needed support so that MRT can continue as a national leader in new play production, as well as an invaluable community resource to the people of Lowell.

When and Where
The Microdonation campaign will run for the duration of “My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend,” the inspiring new musical about the unlikeliest of friendships: April 26 – May 21, at Merrimack Repertory Theatre, 50 East Merrimack Street, Lowell, MA.

Anyone wishing to contribute who will not be at the theatre during the run can do so at

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. MRT produces vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theaters nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).

MRT 2016-17 SEASON
“45 Plays for 45 Presidents” by Andy Bayiates, Sean Benjamin, Genevra Gallo-Bayiates, Chloe Johnston, and Karen Weinberg, Directed by Sean Daniels
September 7 – October 2, 2016
“Abigail/1702” by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Directed by Tlaloc Rivas
October 12 – November 6, 2016
“Going to See the Kid” by Steven Drukman, Directed by Alexander Greenfield
November 30 – December 24, 2016
“The Making of a Great Moment” by Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Directed by Sean Daniels
January 4 – 29, 2017
“Women in Jeopardy!” by Wendy MacLeod, Directed by Sean Daniels
February 15 – March 12, 2017
“Chill” by Eleanor Burgess, Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
March 22 – April 16, 2017
“My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend” Conceived and performed by Charissa Bertels, Book and lyrics by Christian Duhamel, Music and lyrics by Edward Bell, Directed by Sean Daniels
April 26 – May 21, 2017