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LMC presents Grand Rededication of Hanson Theatre, Faculty Recital

The Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Department will host a rededication ceremony for the Hanson Theatre followed by a faculty recital in the newly renovated space at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, in The Mendel Center on the Benton Harbor Campus.

A gift from the Hanson Family Foundation and Merlin and Carolyn Hanson, for which the theatre is named, helped fund more than $600,000 in improvements to the theatre that provides students, visiting performers and theatregoers a place to create and enjoy artistic expression.   

“We are elated about the theatre renovation,” said Kristopher Zook, LMC’s Visual & Performing Arts Chair. “It is wonderful to have the support of the Hanson family, the college administration and the community as our Visual & Performing Arts program continues to grow and flourish. The improvements made to the Hanson Theatre will enable our students to develop as performing artists and hone their skills toward their future aspirations.”

The Mendel Center’s intimate Hanson Theatre accommodates up to 234 guests. It is the primary performance space for the college’s choral, instrumental and theatre students. Its warm atmosphere and excellent acoustics attract up-and-coming musical acts from around the country to take part in the college’s annual Living Room Series. Community organizations use it for events like dance recitals, talent showcases, variety shows and comedy nights.

The renovations include major upgrades to both the look and functionality of the theatre. In addition to visible changes such as new paint, carpet, seating and curtains, the renovations include upgrades to the electrical and internet infrastructure, new rigging and catwalks, new light and sound boards, and a variety of acoustic and other sound improvements.

To show appreciation for the continued generosity of the Hanson Family, there will be a rededication ceremony and official ribbon-cutting led by LMC President, Dr. Trevor Kubatzke, the LMC Board of Trustees and the Visual & Performing Arts Department, including a performance by LMC’s acapella group, Soundwaves.

Following the ceremony, LMC faculty will showcase a diverse mix of vocal and instrumental music in the first performance held in the newly renovated theatre. The recital program includes Robert Lunn on guitar, Donald Savoie on a variety of instruments, Daniel Lopez on trumpet, Marc Churchill on percussion, Gabrielle Smith and James Kraus on piano, Penny Kohns on flute, Meg Rodgers on harp as well as the vocal talents of both Zook and Paul Mow.

Both events are free and open to the public.

For more information about the Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Department, call (269) 927-8876 or visit


Merlin and Carolyn Hanson’s legacy of service and generosity has made a profound impact on Lake Michigan College. In 1990, the Hansons led the charge to complete construction of LMC’s Mendel Center. Because of their leadership and philanthropic support for the campaign, the Hanson Theatre was originally dedicated in their name on Nov. 6, 1991. In 1993, the Hansons gifted an extensive art collection adorning the halls outside the theatre.  

From 1982 to 1991, Merlin served as vice-chair, then chair of the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees, promoting the importance of training and education for our businesses and communities. He was an original member of what is now known as the Lake Michigan College Foundation, and his wife Carolyn was pivotal in the creation of the Winner’s Circle Auction, co-chairing the first scholarship fundraiser in 1988, again in 1989 and volunteering with her husband as raffle chairs in 1991. 

In 2014, the family’s generosity made possible the construction of LMC’s Hanson Technology Center, which was nationally recognized as defining the future of advanced manufacturing education and skilled trades training.   


The Mendel Center raised the curtain on its first Mainstage season performance in the fall of 1992. Since that time, it has presented Mainstage season performances to more than half a million patrons in the 1,559-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre. Newly renovated Grand Upton Hall, first opened in 1979, is a 14,400-square-foot venue serving the community as the host site for meetings, banquets, trade shows, weddings, and other celebrations. The 234-seat Hanson Theatre is home to the Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Departments as well as a variety of Mendel Center and community events.

The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI. Learn more at

Hanson Theatre

Media Contact

Candice Elders
Lake Michigan College
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