A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Mike and Melinda Reinhart

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Mike and Melinda Reinhart

For Mike Reinhart, one of the directors at M&M Productions and Ross Music Theatre, musical theater has played a big role in his life. Mike Reinhart got his start in the theater when he was only eight years old, the first show he was in being “Flower Drum Song.”

Mike Reinhart’s father founded the Ross Music Theatre 60 years ago. Mike Reinhart and his wife, Melinda Reinhart, would eventually take the reins and run the theater.

“As my dad got older, my wife, Melinda, and I took over some of the stuff that he couldn't do or didn't have time to do. Then when he finally retired from the theater in 2010, Melinda and I took over the directing and designing,” Mike Reinhart said. “My father continued to conduct the orchestra until his last summer alive in 2013.” 

Mike and Melinda Reinhart met in 1987 at the Ross Music Theatre, started dating, and eight years later got married.

“Melinda and I were actually doing the musical 'Brigadoon' when we started dating,” Mike Reinhart said.

Melinda Reinhart, choral director at Merrillville High School and one of the directors of Ross Music Theatre and M&M Productions, shares her husband’s passion for music and theater. Melinda Reinhart’s lifelong dream, however, was to be a teacher.

“I went to Indiana University (IU) Bloomington School of Music and got involved in the summer theater production at Ross Music Theatre,” Melinda Reinhart said. 

Mike Reinhart noted that one of the challenges they’ve faced at the theater was drawing in the crowds after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to get an audience,” Mike Reinhart said. “I think when you can pull up a movie on your phone or play videos on YouTube, who's going to pay for a ticket?”

Melinda Reinhart mentioned that COVID-19 was very challenging for her choir kids as well.

“They like performing, they like singing, they like working together, and we just tried to make it as normal for them as possible,” Melinda Reinhart said.

Melinda Reinhart expresses gratitude to her husband, Mike Reinhart, for being supportive during the pandemic and assisting in making long-distance teaching a little bit easier. 

“When things were crazy with COVID, I was trying to figure out a way that I could keep doing what I do. He was always making, researching, and finding equipment that would work so that I could teach from home,” Melinda Reinhart said. “Throughout that whole process, my husband tried to find different programs so that we could try to make things as normal as possible with equipment that he had found.”

Mike and Melinda Reinhart’s sons, Jacob and Lucas, have also been involved in the Ross Music Theatre.

“Pretty much almost since birth, Jacob and Lucas have been involved in every aspect,” Melinda Reinhart said. “Both of them have gone on to study voice and theater in school and are now branching out with newfound talents from playing some instruments they learned, and now they are playing in the pits for us.” 

Mike Reinhart’s hope for the future of the Ross Music Theatre is that it lives on for many, many more years to come.

“I hope there's always someone to pass the baton to. My parents got to pass it on to us, and I hopefully will pass it on to somebody,” Mike Reinhart said. “I think it is something that's good for the community and for the schools. To have something around that can help anybody if just one person; if it's helpful to somebody, it's worthwhile.”