If you were ever the kid who got picked last for kickball, or denied a spot on the drill team, stop shelling out for expensive therapy sessions and mark your calendars for July 9-12. At Center Stage Theater on each of those days, the legendary Santa Barbara Summer Stock delivers its 2009 theatrical productions in which imagination takes precedence over memorization and the wackiest creative impulses are encouraged.
Now in its 30th year, the month-long program offers a creative performing arts experience to 60 budding actors ages seven to 15, this year culminating in two shows. The younger artists are hard at work on an adaptation of the classic tale of the Frog Prince called East of the Sun, West of the Moon, while the teen group is busy creating a new version of the rock ‘n’ roll musical Grease. Both casts work with theater professionals, including a number of Summer Stock graduates who have gone on to pursue degrees and careers in acting.
In addition to finding their inner thespians, Summer Stock participants get to dabble in everything from singing and dancing to costuming, set design, lighting, sound, and makeup. “It’s a nontraditional approach,” Summer Stock Executive Director Leslie Frasier explained. “We view it as a collaborative effort; it’s not a small starring cast with a big ensemble. We try to make it so that everyone works to the best of their potential and everyone does what they’re comfortable doing.”
To that end, Summer Stock productions always are highly original, and based in large part on the talents and contributions of the individuals involved. “If somebody shows up who can play the accordion, maybe we’ll create an accordion song in the show,” Frasier said. “We are not married to the script-it’s more of a fluid backdrop.”