In 2003, a popular Oklahoma City amphitheater, Jewel Box Under the Stars, closed down. Several families who enjoyed outdoor musical theater, however, decided they didn't want the fun to end.
Spearheaded by Theresa Nelson, Summerstock Productions began, at Edmond's Mitch Park Amphitheatre at 2733 Marilyn Williams, an area surrounded by open land and quiet neighborhoods "? an almost idyllic spot for outdoor family theater.
The wide, covered proscenium stage has enough lighting and wing space for the large, family-friendly musicals they want to present. Tiered seating affords ample room for the audience's lawn chairs and blankets, and theatergoers are welcome to picnic before the shows.
Summerstock launched its inaugural season in 2005 with "The Sound of Music," followed by "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat." By the second season, attendance nearly tripled, when more than 8,000 people turned up for "The Wizard of Oz" and "Grease."
Obviously happy with this outcome, Nelson modestly described the growth as a "delightful surprise."
"It validates our belief that an outdoor musical theater experience is valuable to families and to our community," she said.
For its current season, "The King and I" opens Thursday and closes June 9. "West Side Story" follows June 28-July 7. Open auditions for the shows attracted more than 200 performers.
"It is so exciting to see that OKC and Edmond not only have such amazing talent, but they cultivate and nurture that talent," Nelson said. "?Linda McDonald