About Us

Naperville's Community Theatre Since 1966

And Counting!

The Summer Place, Inc. (or Summer Place Theatre as it has come to be known) got it's start back in 1966 as a way to keep students active and their acting skills sharp over the summer months. 

 It was founded by Donald "Doc" Shanower, then Dean of Theatre at North Central College in 1966. 2016 was our 50th season, and we dedicated our shows to Doc. Sadly, we lost Doc in 2015, just shy of our big 50th anniversary. We miss you, and most of all we thank you for creating this long lasting Naperville institution.

Our Mission Statement:

The Summer Place, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer-supported community theatre, based in the Naperville area, strives to provide professional quality year round theatre arts entertainment. We are committed to providing:

  • A supportive and collaborative environment for artists;
  • High quality, culturally enriching entertainment to the community;
  • Educational opportunities for all ages through mentoring and performance based participation.

The Summer Place, Inc. gets funding through ticket sales, advertising sales, concessions proceeds, grants, and the generous donations of our patrons.

The bulk of our expenses go towards royalty fees, set building costs, and, depending on the production, costuming. To a far lesser extent we spend money on honorariums for our directors and musicians. Our actors do not get paid. For that matter, our actors don't pay us for the opportunity to act in our shows, although of late they have paid a script and costume fee to help defray those costs. Our producers, who are pulled from our Board of Directors, are not paid to produce the shows, nor are any of our Board Members or Officers paid for their service.

Summer Place is a Community Theater. It provides a great deal to Naperville: the opportunity to gather and create a work of art and to share that work with its citizens at a very low cost.

One of our largest supporters is Naperville itself.  The Naperville Park District provides rooms for us to meet and rehearse and is a partner with us for Ghost Stories in the fall, and Naperville School District 203 provides our theatre venue during the summer: Naperville Central High School Auditorium. 

Our Officers

President Don Gingold

"Your Ghost Host," Don has led the production of Ghost Stories ... In the Park ... In the Dark for the past several years, as Producer, Director, TD, MC and Story Teller. In the Summer months he's been in numerous productions, most notably Merlin and Pellinor in Camelot, Mr. Tinsworthy in 9 to 5, the book voice in How to Succeed, Potifar in Joseph, Doc in West Side Story, Senex in Forum, old Ben in The Secret Garden, the Ringmaster and Bailey in Barnum, and his first role at Summer Place, Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof. He is also one of the Summer Place Singers. Don was on the board for several years, supposedly cured but due to contagion from his daughter, had a relapse and is back. He heads the Publicity Committee of the troop. A 25+ year Naperville resident with wife and local author Kate, together they own Gnu Ventures Company which does publications, training and voiceover, and Sprocket Websites which powers this site. They have two grown children: one's a producer in LA and the other ...

Vice President Emma Gingold

Emma performed in her first Summer Place production in 2004 and has appeared in several productions since then, including Summer Place's annual Ghost Stories ... in the Park ... in the Dark for two years. Although being on stage has its allure, she also enjoys being back stage, or even better, below it: Most recently she was the Vocal and Music Director for Camelot and has also played in the pit orchestra for 9 to 5 and Oklahoma. Emma graduated from Knox College in 2012 with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Music. Her love for writing and her experience doing odd jobs for her parents' web design company make her well suited to help out on the board's Marketing Committee and with the website. She currently works as an accompanist for high school choirs, Solo and Ensemble festivals, and other musical theatre productions, and she teaches piano lessons in La Grange. This is Emma's first year as a board member.

Secretary Sabrina Zeidler

Sabrina Zeidler was introduced to theatre when she saw her father in Summer Place Theatre’s production of Man of LaMancha. Her mother took to every performance. She is very grateful for being brought to the theatre by her mother and being handed a drill by her father, all at the age of five.  Since then, she thought of other things to do with her life.  But, has come to embrace the entertainment industry and enjoys every adventure it brings her.  Sabrina says, “I am one of the lucky few that knows what they love to do and I am so ecstatic that I get to do it every day.” She is a graduate of Elmhurst College with a degree in Theatre – Stage Management, Design and Technology, and Theatre Arts Administration, with minors in Communication Studies and Business Administration.  Sabrina has been honored by the Kennedy Center for her work as a Stage Manager on several occasions.  She has worked as a freelance stagehand and stage manager for corporate and educational venues.  Currently, she is a Technical Director at Hinsdale South High School and a Technician at the McAninch Arts Center.  Summer Place introduced her to theatre as a patron.  It allowed her to volunteer for us starting in 2006.  Brought her on our design teams in 2010. And we graciously accepted her to the Board of Directors in 2013. 

Treasurer Jeff Sand

Jeff has served Summer Place in many capacities in his 10 years with the troop: Sound designer, Stage Manager, Producer, Box Office, Ticket, Poster and Program Designer and Board Member. Jeff has recently taken the lead in our grant submissions efforts as well as updated our bookkeeping.

Our Board of Directors

Cynthia Lauren Grant

Cynthia Lauren-Grant has created the Summer Place’s last four original Musical Revues, as well as our big anniversary show 50 Years of Musicals from the Summer Place Theatre. She was the producer/director for the show, as well as being a performer. Cynthia grew up in Bensenville, but gravitated to Los Angeles to “be a star,” where she worked as an actress and singer for The Great American Melodrama and Vaudeville Theatre and the Birdcage Theatre at Knott’s Berry Farm. In Illinois, Cynthia has worked with the Tempo Players and the Magical Starlight Theatre. A Naperville resident, she was asked to be on the Board of Directors of the Summer Place Theatre in 1993, after playing “Peter” in their production of Peter Pan. It was her first production with the Summer Place, along with her then 5 year old son Corin, now an actor in Los Angeles. One of her early responsibilities for the Board was the theatre’s mailings. The mother and son team “licked and sticked” over 3000 labels per mailing! Since that time, Cynthia has performed in many Summer Place productions, as well as serving as vice president, secretary, producer, and music director. She is the House Manager for SPT. Cynthia holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education, with a minor in Theatre, from the University of Illinois. She is a retired vocal music teacher with the Naperville Public Schools, and plans a second career in the world of voiceover performing.

John Vales

From John: I am very excited to be on the Board of Directors at Summer Place Theatre and to be serving as the Technical Director for a third consecutive season. I first worked for Summer Place as the Stage Manager for Sweet Charity, this was the first non-educational job I worked in theatre. I believe in the value and power community theatre has to help launch the careers of young artists and provide a creative outlet for community members. I always look forward to working with new designers/technicians and enjoy the creativity they bring to the stage. When I am not working at the Summer Place, I am working as a freelance technical director, and scenic/lighting designer. I am also currently the Technical Director at Glenbard East High School. In 2016 I will be completing my Bachelor's of Arts in Theatre Design/Technology at Elmhurst College. I am very thankful to all the theatre educators who have impacted my life, they gave direction to me, and inspired me to be the artist I am today. When I am not working on shows I can be found attending theatre performances, going to concerts, writing, painting, spending time with friends and family. My goal for 2016 is to make the opportunities to volunteer backstage more accessible to the community.  I can't wait to start working with our awesome crew.

Susan Vulich

Susan has been on the board for two and a half years. She has always been interested in theater. As a child she was in several operas and Toyland. When her children became interested in doing theater she became active with Kidz Kabaret, then Summer Place Theatre. As a board member she has helped with sets, manages the Box Office, and produced Shakespeare Land of the Dead and Desk Set.

Ted Waltmire

Ted Waltmire has been a part of The Summer Place since 1977 when he was cast in Damn Yankees. Since then he has served as a musical director and on the Board of Directors producing plays and musicals as well as a term as President.  Ted has also studied at the Second City Training Center, Chicago Dramatists, and Porchlight Theater.  Following a stroke in 2009 Ted wrote the book and lyrics, collaborated with Stephanie McCullough on the music, and starred in The Mighty Ted which has been produced twice in Chicago.

Steven Zeidler

Steve is the past president of Summer Place Theatre and has been a major supporter of this theatre group for years. He's also an accomplished actor and singer, appearing in many of our plays and musicals, most recently as Arthur in Spamalot, also in Oklahoma, Harvey, The Man Who Came to Dinner, a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (pictured).

About Us

The Summer Place, Inc. is a 501-C3 not-for-profit organization and receives our funding through sales of affordably priced tickets, program ads, concessions, from a small number of grants and from the kind donations of our patrons. 

Summer Place Theatre, as we're best-known, is all about Community. Our all volunteer board, crew and cast work hard together to produce entertaining plays and musicals for the Naperville area. We invite you to get involved!

Contact Us

The Summer Place, Inc.
P.O. Box 2394
Naperville, IL 60567


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