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Summer Repertory Theatre returns with four shows

Long delayed by renovation of its theater space and by the pandemic, the venerated student theater program is back.|

Back to the boards

What: Summer Repertory Theatre

When: June 24 through Aug. 7

Where: Burbank Auditorium Main Stage Theatre and Studio Theatre, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa

Admission: General, $35; senior, $33; youth with student ID, $33; Flex Plan Ticket Package, with one ticket for each show, $112

Information: SummerRep.com. To purchase tickets, visit summerrep.com/box-office or call 707-527-4307.

COVID-19 protocols: At the entrance, patrons must present a photo ID and proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours before the show. Allow at least 15 minutes extra for vaccination and ID checks. Masks must be worn indoors while on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus. Social distancing will not be enforced. See covid.santarosa.edu for additional information.

The season:

June 24-July 3: “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Studio Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

July 1-10: “Cinderella,” Main Stage Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

July 22-July 30: “Sister Act,” Main Stage Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

July 29-Aug. 7: “Silent Sky,” Studio Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

Many annual events are returning this summer after a two-year pause prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. But for the popular Summer Repertory Theatre program at Santa Rosa Junior College, the wait has been even longer than that.

This annual series of dramas, musical and comedies, begun in 1972, has not been staged at its home base in Burbank Auditorium on the campus for the past four years.

In 2018, the season was postponed while the 80-year-old building underwent a massive renovation. The following summer, as the construction continued, the Summer Repertory Theatre company performed in an outdoor pavilion. In 2020 and 2021, the building was closed by the pandemic, and both seasons were canceled.

“It’s been a long time, but we’re thrilled to be back,” said James Newman, artistic director of Summer Repertory Theatre since 2006.

Now, at last, the program returns this summer with four productions, two in the renovated building’s 400-seat mainstage theater and two in its 200-seat studio theater.

As in the past, all the shows have been cast from a company of college student actors recruited locally and from all over the country and will be presented in an overlapping rotation.

“We have company of 120, including actors, crew, orchestra and staff,” Newman said.

Traditionally, Summer Repertory Theatre has presented five shows per season, but this year it will be four.

“The college shortened the summer schedule by a week,” Newman said. “We tried to figure out how to present five shows in less time, but we couldn’t solve the puzzle. I think it was a smart decision to scale back just a bit.”

Newman offered a short summary of each show in the new season.

“The Importance of Being Earnest,” by Oscar Wilde

“This play is tried and true, but it’s also one of the best-built comedies of manners ever written.”

“Cinderella,” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II

“Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote this musical in 1957, but it was not on Broadway. They wrote it for television. It was remade for TV in 1965 and again with Whitney Houston in 1997,” Newman said. “It never went to Broadway until this version in 2013, which kept the music and rewrote the book. This particular damsel is in less distress than in the previous versions.”

“Sister Act,” a musical comedy adapted from the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg, with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner

“This is based on the Whoopi Goldberg movie, but it has been completely rewritten and the music is all original. It’s got plenty of nuns and disco music.”

“Silent Sky,” by Lauren Gunderson, based on the true story of 19th-century astronomer Henrietta Leavitt

“Although women astronomers at the turn of the century weren’t allowed to touch the telescopes, Henrietta Leavitt and her female colleagues mapped the distance between galaxies. Lauren Gunderson is one of the most prolific new playwrights.”

Despite the long delay, the Summer Repertory Theatre audience is still loyal and eager, Newman said.

“Everything’s coming back at once,” he said. “Ticket sales are going very well. I think people are ready to come back. There’s something special about sharing space as part of a live audience.”

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com or 707-521-5243. On Twitter @danarts.

Dan Taylor

Arts & Entertainment, The Press Democrat

Do you take fun seriously? I know I do. Tell me what you want to know about arts and entertainment in the North Bay to make the best use of your leisure time and money. As a longtime local arts journalist, I have learned where to look and who to ask.

Back to the boards

What: Summer Repertory Theatre

When: June 24 through Aug. 7

Where: Burbank Auditorium Main Stage Theatre and Studio Theatre, Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa

Admission: General, $35; senior, $33; youth with student ID, $33; Flex Plan Ticket Package, with one ticket for each show, $112

Information: SummerRep.com. To purchase tickets, visit summerrep.com/box-office or call 707-527-4307.

COVID-19 protocols: At the entrance, patrons must present a photo ID and proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test taken within 72 hours before the show. Allow at least 15 minutes extra for vaccination and ID checks. Masks must be worn indoors while on the Santa Rosa Junior College campus. Social distancing will not be enforced. See covid.santarosa.edu for additional information.

The season:

June 24-July 3: “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Studio Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

July 1-10: “Cinderella,” Main Stage Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

July 22-July 30: “Sister Act,” Main Stage Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

July 29-Aug. 7: “Silent Sky,” Studio Theatre, Burbank Auditorium

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