July 21, 2021
By now we hope you’ve had a chance to catch one of this year’s KIDSTAGE Summer Independent productions of Spitfire Grill or Jasper in Deadland. Or maybe you’re still looking forward to attending Urinetown, which is opening July 30 in Issaquah. It has been thrilling to be able to open our doors to audiences again for Summer Independent and wanted to share a little bit more about this wonderful program with you.
What is Summer Independent?
Summer Independent is unique to Village Theatre. It provides a professionally mentored production experience to students with a background in live theatre and gives those students the resources and support needed to produce their own full-scale show from start to finish. During this program, members of Village Theatre’s professional staff mentor the artistic team, who are considered professional interns. As a result, Summer Independent participants are challenged to reach the goal of attaining the highest professional standards possible and the program is an entry point to professional theatre for the entire production team. Many talented young theatre-makers who have been involved in the program have gone on to work professionally both locally and nationally at venues such as Village Theatre, Seattle Opera, The Paramount Theatre, ACT, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and On and Off-Broadway.
A Lasting Impact
The influence of Summer Independent on those involved with the program becomes obvious when speaking to some of the talented participants.
Jeremy Steckler, the director of Jasper in Deadland, became involved with KIDSTAGE 5 years ago, when he was 18, and fondly remembers being welcomed into the program: “I still remember my first audition for Sweeney Todd and how Aaron Alonso (KIDSTAGE Production Manager, Everett) invited me in with open arms. I was shocked at how kind everyone was to this kid they’d never met before. Strangers became castmates, and these castmates became life-long friends.”
For Jeremy, the experience of directing this summer has been invaluable. “This directing experience has been incredible. There aren’t many theaters in Washington that will willingly give a few students free-reign with a show–including having my mentor be the legendary Brandon Ivie (Village Theatre Associate Artistic Director)… Overall, this process has shaped me into the leader, actor, and director I have always wanted to be.”
Andrew Long, the Technical Director for Spitfire Grill and Urinetown, has been involved with KIDSTAGE for two years. Although Andrew says it has been challenging to work on two shows so close together, he has felt incredible support from his mentor, Brad Bixler (Village Theatre Technical Director), and the rest of his team. “I will forever and always cherish the meaning of this program, which allows young theatre artists to explore their artistic vision in a setting where we are allowed to explore.”
Perhaps this is the greatest impact of this program, that the next generation of theatre-makers find themselves in control of their own art. If the three shows featured this summer in our Summer Independent Program are any indication of the future of theatre, we can all rest assured knowing the art form is in incredibly capable hands.
Join us for Summer Independent
Come join us to see what Jeremy, Andrew and the rest of the talented KIDSTAGE teams have been working on! You can still catch Jasper in Deadland through Sunday, July 25 or Urinetown from July 30-August 8.