You’ll notice when you walk into the Ohrstrom-Bryant Theatre building that it’s very clean and sterile; a fashionably minimalist lobby, whether designed to be that way or not. The dark and rainy outdoor skies played well with the room’s grand edges, creating extra shadows here and there where the sun would have eliminated them. As it turns out, there was no need for the sun that day: Liz Albert, Associate Managing and Production Director, proved to be the best substitute! With a contagiously welcoming personality, Liz managed to brighten the room by at least 5 notches, resulting in the perfect lighting I needed to conduct an interview about the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre’s amazing summer line-up!
What’s on the menu this summer 2017?
“This year we’ll be performing a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Oklahoma! , followed by Beauty and the Beast, and then finally Hairspray. Each year, we try to stick to certain categories that will appeal to everyone in the area. So we’ve got something older and more classic with Oklahoma!, something more modern with Hairspray, and something a lot more family friendly with Beauty and the Beast. You can’t always find something that everyone’s going to enjoy, which is why we try to incorporate a diverse selection. And a lot of people don’t get that we can’t just perform any musical, they have to be within our budget to license. That being said, we take surveys throughout the year so we can tell what the audience is interested in seeing, and we go from there.”
What’s the average audience size for each performance?
“So we do 11 performances of each show throughout the summer season, and in total that probably draws in close to 25,000 patrons. Each show itself seats 600; sometimes we’ll be a little under that and sometimes a little over, just depending on who has a particular interest in the show. Certain titles draw in new patrons like this year with Beauty and the Beast being so big, I’m sure we’ll see a larger audience for that. With Hairspray, I feel like a lot of what went on during that time period we can still relate to today, so I’m sure that will draw a nice crowd as well. And it’s really awesome because we see people of all ages and backgrounds at every performance, it’s great to see everyone coming together to enjoy the theatrical experience.”
Is there anything in particular you want people to know?
“Just how much work and dedication really goes into these performances. We have such great crews for each play this year, all of them are truly great inside and out, and they are wonderful to work with. We even have a few alumnus from Shenandoah University who are going to be returning to work on these plays, and that in and of itself really speaks volumes here at Shenandoah University; to be able to see that they can go out into the world and make something great of themselves and be able to come back and apply their skills that the University helped them cultivate. Not to mention the great, accomplished directors and choreographers we’re fortunate to work with – we wouldn’t be able to do this without them.
Also, and people are always really amazed by this, each musical is given just 10 days to pull everything together, including anything that has to be built for the set, costumes, props. All of the performers have to know what they’re doing, and the ability to collaborate and cooperate is really crucial. We’ve got a long history of working with great people who are always able to accomplish that, and this year will be no different.”
Check out the Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre here!
We here at Go Blue Ridge Travel will be giving you a more in-depth, behind the scenes look at each upcoming musical once closer to summer. Stay tuned!