For the first time since Santa Rosa Junior College introduced its popular annual Summer Repertory Theatre program in 1972, the shows will not go on this summer.

Work recently got underway on the long-awaited $25 million renovation of the college’s largest theater, the 75-year-old Burbank Auditorium.

That leaves SRT without an appropriate venue for its trademark full-scale, Broadway-style plays and musicals, said James Newman, director of the program since 2007, in a letter to subscribers.

“We simply cannot diminish the quality of our shows while we wait for our beautiful new state-of-the-art facility to be completed,” he wrote.

Newman had previously announced a smaller-than-normal 2018 season, with four shows instead of the usual five, which was to include “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Ragtime,” “The 39 Steps” and “Sylvia.”

“We had cut it down to four shows to make things easier,” Newman said in a phone interview, “but there wasn’t any place that was going to be suitable for the kind of shows we’re known for.”

The Summer Repertory Theatre program will resume in the newly revamped Burbank Auditorium next year, Newman said.

“We’re really excited about launching our 2019 season in the new building,” he said. “We’re calling this a hiatus, not a cancelation.”

During its previous 46 seasons, the SRT program has enrolled more than 8,000 student actors, technicians and musicians, who have received practical, on-the-job training in live theater.

Meanwhile, the college’s regular school-year drama program continues this spring with its production of “Into the Woods” opening April 20 at Maria Carillo High School Auditorium in Santa Rosa.

To sign up for an SRT e-newsletter to receive regular updates, go to and for Burbank Auditorium construction updates, visit

You can reach staff writer Dan Taylor at 707-521-5243 or On Twitter @danarts.