"Evita" director Gustavo Wons, a Broadway dancer who was born in Argentina. Onstage are the leads in Evita: Stephanie Christianson, Mario Castro, Mikey LoBalsamo, Ashley Landroche Whalley, and Giovanni Beatty along with Music Director Alexander Tom. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
June 27, 2018MEREDITH — Interlakes Summer Theatre is entering its 11th season with a slate of big shows, a number of theater veterans on and offstage, and a building reputation for producing great talent.
Interlakes Summer Theater will begin its new season on July 5 with the opening of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Evita." The professional summer stock theater at the Inter-Lakes Community Auditorium was founded in 2008 by Producing Director Nancy Barry.
Barry said in the past decade, 28 of their performers have signed contracts to perform in Broadway productions, some recently. The theater filmed a commercial, which is now running in local movie theaters and will be shown to wider audiences soon. Barry said when they initially filmed the voiceover stated that 22 performers had gone onto Broadway. Soon she contacted the producers to correct the voiceover to 24 people, since then four more performers have gone onto Broadway.
"That just tells me I've been finding great talent," Barry said.
Over the years, 23 people are coming back after performing there before.
"That means they trust me, and I trust them; that's part of the family thing," Barry said.
Two performers who took part in the first season and met for the first time are now married; the wife is performing on Broadway, and the husband is a stage manager.
She said the Interlakes Summer Theatre has become well known to casting directors and other theatrical movers and shakers in the know from New York City to Florida. She said she has heard that actors will recommend to their peers to take the opportunity to do Interlakes Summer Theatre if they are offered.
Initially, the theater had a rocky start. Barry said the theater started the summer before the recession of 2008 hit, and since then, it has been lucky to break even. Barry has never taken a paycheck from the theater, saying she does her work there for the love of it.
Over the past decade, the theater has steadily grown more successful. She said she has made close friendships, especially the people she meets at the annual casting conference in New York City.
The new season's first production is "Evita" starring Ashley Landroche as Eva Peron.
"I chose her because she is mature," Barry said. "She has the talent, she has the depth to do a role like this."
Landroche also runs The Studio at Meredith Bay, which was formally managed by her grandmother.
The production is directed by Broadway veteran Gustavo Wons, who is from Argentina and has dual US/Argentinian citizenship. Barry said Wons has given much insight on how revered Peron is in his home country. Barry said Wons has told them about how she did a lot for women in Argentina, including helping to give women the vote.
"He knows things about her that we don't get to see in the story," Barry said. "I love it because he knows the true story."
"Evita" closes on July 15 and next the theater will do the classic musical "Showboat" July 18-29.
The next show will be "La Cage aux Folles" on Aug. 1-12, the play that inspired the film "The Birdcage."
The show has special meaning to Barry. In "La Cage aux Folles" a gay couple tries to hide who they are when meeting the conservative parents of their son's fiancee. Barry once performed in a production of the musical and her parents were in the audience.
"My parents said that show just touched their hearts how parents are willing to sacrifice for their children," Barry said. "They were very conservative, but they loved that show, they loved the message."
Theater veteran David Michael Stoddard will play Albin.
The season will finish with "Newsies" Aug. 15-19, which will Barry said will feature Broadway-caliber dancers.
The theater will have a "Newsies" themed float in Meredith's 250th birthday parade.
The nonprofit Interlakes Children's Theatre is getting ready for its first show of the season. The organization is a theater camp for students ages 9-18 where they work with professional actors.
The first show is "Honk, Jr." July 14 and 15, which will be followed by "Really Rosie" on July 28 and 29 and "Lion King, Jr." Aug. 11 and 12.
For more information on the season and special events, call 707-6035 or visit interlakestheatre.com.