Summerstock Conservatory was a theatre company based out of Westmount Charter School in Calgary, Alberta from 2002 to 2012. Every August, between the first and the fourteenth, high school and young post-secondary students from across Canada performed a play in Olympic Plaza.
Summerstock Conservatory, formally MainStage, was founded in 2002 by Jim Senft who directed Summerstock's first show Guys and Dolls. The reviews were positive, and the following year Fiddler on the Roof was performed with great zeal to an extremely appreciative audience. Annie Get Your Gun was next to be performed, with a great deal of support, due to Calgary's western enthusiasts. In 2006, West Side Story was performed. Calgarians have continued to show their support for the program, with the highest attendance rate being for the show Annie Get Your Gun. In July and August 2007, Footloose was performed by the company, with support mainly from the performer's friends and family members. In August 2008, Summerstock performed the classic Broadway hit Grease, which was received with overwhelming positive response from the audience. August 2009 brought with it RENT: School Edition, Guys and Dolls in 2010, Hairspray in 2011, and for their final year, Legally Blonde: The Musical in 2012.
Directors and producers
While Jim Senft is the original director of Summerstock, he took a year long break in 2005 from the Calgary show to branch out to Toronto to create another Summerstock Conservatory. Another running of Guys and Dolls was held in Toronto, produced and co-directed by Joan Mansfield, a professional theatre producer based in Toronto, during Calgary's production of Annie Get Your Gun. During that time, the current tech director in Calgary, Josh Collins, also took the position of artistic director. The following year, Jim Senft returned to Calgary.
Since the beginning of the program, the head producer was Brandi Sedore, also a secretary at Westmount Charter School where Summerstock holds its rehearsals. However, in 2007, Brandi officially stepped down from her position and Kathryn Waters took over for the production of Footloose. Nonetheless, Brandi returned for the 2007-2008 year and continued until Jayson Krause took over as Executive Producer for the 2010-2011 year.
Educational coursework for Summerstock is offered through Westmount Charter School, which awards Alberta high school credits in courses relating to the activities of its cast and technical crew. Cast members can receive high school credit while performing in Summerstock. The company also provides a scholarship program to cast members once they have a high school diploma and have completed the other requirements. The company also offers financial compensation to certain university members each year, who work for Summerstock during the summer, generally as lead cast members. Further, each year contributing high schools receive grants to help run their respective drama departments offered through The Summerstock Foundation, the charitable arm of Summerstock.
Summerstock Theater Festival
The Summerstock Theater Festival is an annual outdoor performance of a musical held in the Arts District in downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Based on the premise of the traditional Summer Stock Theatre, this program presents Broadway-style theatre outdoors at Olympic Plaza. Performers are Calgary high school and university students who come home from all across Canada to perform Broadway musicals.
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