2016 is the Year of the Woman at Summer Place




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2016 is the Year of the Woman at Summer Place
Don Gingold
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2016 is the Year of the Woman at Summer Place

3 female directors running our 50th season

With #AskHerMore and so much talk of equality in the theatrical world of late, it's nice to see that Summer Place Theatre is at the forefront, hiring an all-female roster of directors for this year's summer productions. Doc Shanower would be proud!

Of our three shows this year, the 50th season for Summer Place, the choice of director for our middle show, 50 Years of Musicals from the Summer Place Theatre, was never a question. Cynthia Lauren-Grant has been leading our musical revues for the last 4 years. Each spring we hold a Cabaret of fun music, like last year's Jinglemania or a tribute to George and Ira Gershwin of the Jazz Age from a couple years back. She was the producer/director for the shows, as well as being a performer. It's high time we put her musical talent on the big stage as part of our regular summer season.

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 secretary, producer, music director and House Manager.

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.


Summer Place Welcomes Two New Directors To Our Company

Of the many candidates for the jobs, we are very pleased to announce that these 2 women will be leading us in our 1st and 3rd productions this summer.

Jesus Christ Superstar, opening June 17, will be directed by Amanda Strolia. Amanda is a recent graduate of North Central College in Naperville, IL. She currently resides in Naperville, but grew up not far from her current neighborhood in Woodridge, IL. 

Amanda studied Musical Theatre in college with minors in Dance and Communications. She hopes to continue to work as a director/choreographer in the future and one day establish her own theater company. Amanda recently directed The Misanthrope with Gorilla Tango Theatre in Chicago this past fall. This winter she will be co-directing Beauty and the Beast at a local middle school and directing The Wizard of Oz for young performers with the Fox Valley Park District. 

Other favorite credits include assistant directing Parade and Bye Bye Birdie at North Central College, and directing Annie and A Midsummer Night's Dream with Fox Valley Park District.

Our 50th Season comes full circle for Summer Place. The Music Man is the very first musical Summer Place produced, and we're excited to see Katelyn Stoss at the helm. 

A native of Hutchinson, Kansas, Katelyn graduated Magna Cum Laude with her BFA in Musical Theatre from Wichita State University in 2014. She is currently a Tour Actor/Director with Missoula Children's Theatre. 

Stoss has had the privilege of working with community theatres, high school drama programs, dance studios, and now hundreds of kids in communities across the North West and Canada. In 2015 she choreographed A Christmas Story, Beauty and the Beast, and the Wizard of Oz. She was most recently seen on stage playing Schwartzy in 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and the Mad Hatter in Shrek the Musical as well as serving as the assistant to the choreographer. 

Her favorite collegiate role was Elaine in Crazy for You, which she again served as the assistant to the choreographer. She was also featured as Tracy Turnblad in The Best of Broadway Revue and Kate in Pirates of Penzance. With a couple decades of dance training in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, musical theatre, contemporary, and other disciplines, she can often be found teaching master classes. 

She also has extensive experience as a tap assistant, dance captain, and choreographer. Outside of her vocal instrument, she also plays flute, guitar, ukulele, and kazoo. 

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