M & M Productions
What does a 25 year old college graduate do when he gets out of the Air Force and obtains his first teaching job? If he loves theatre, has studied under famous conductors and directors at Indiana University's prestigious School of Music, he immediately starts to think musical productions. In 1954, attracted to "the Region" by its proximity to Chicago theatre, Jerauld Reinhart found the peaceful, friendly community of Merrillville, Indiana and began a long relationship with the school and community as high school choral director for 39 years and Ross Music Theatre director for 50 years.
In 1964, wishing for a creative way to spend the summers, Reinhart asked the Optimist Club of Merrillville to sponsor a summer theatre for young people. The high school gym was the only stage big enough for Reinhart's spectacular spring and winter choral concerts so the theatre productions started on the gym stage and progressed to the gym floor.
Meanwhile, Reinhart had been pushing for an artistic and well-equipped auditorium in which to present school and community events. Backed by the school and community, he sought out the advice of his mentors at IU and the high school auditorium--now the Reinhart Auditorium--opened in 1972 with "Kiss Me, Kate." Productions got larger, casts and choruses grew, orchestras grew, as well as Reinhart's eight children, who trouped along every summer. The youngest appeared on stage at age 3.
Jerry was known for being an incredible musician and showman but he was also an amazing scenic designer, artist, and carpenter. Many of his sets, like Beauty and the Beast, and Hello Dolly, garnered applause when
the curtain opened and revealed his set.
Jerry's last full set design was "Phantom of the Opera" at Merrillville High School in 2011 . He was also the principal scenic artist. It seems fitting to use many of his wonderful ideas and designs for this year's rendition of "Phantom".
Jerry passed away February 13th, 2014, and his amazing wife and partner in RSMT also productions also left us in March of 2021 but because they were always teaching, mentoring, and instructing, they live on in many productions through all of those who learned from them and passed their expertise and knowledge on to the next generations.