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Summer Stock Stage is a non-profit arts organization that exists to provide musical theater experiences to the next generation of performing artists. Founded in 2003, Summer Stock Stage originated due to Emily Ristine Holloway’s positive experiences in a youth theater program offered by the Indianapolis Civic Theatre in the late 1980s. Because Ristine Holloway believed that this experience helped lead to her success as a professional actress and director, she wanted to develop a similar program for Indianapolis-area youth..
In 2003, Ristine Holloway joined with Kelly Butler Smith, producer and choreographer, and John Williams, longtime Head of Fine Arts at Park Tudor School, to offer their own summer theater experience. Over the last nineteen years, Summer Stock Stage/Eclipse has produced 38 shows featuring 1,500 students and emerging artists, and many Summer Stock Stage alumni are pursuing musical theater careers throughout the country in tours, regional theater, and on Broadway.
We chatted with Ristine Holloway to find out more about her passion for the arts and Summer Stock Stage, and what shows the organization will be performing this summer.
You have directed and produced nearly thirty musicals for Summer Stock Stage, and you are also a performer; where did your passion for the arts come from originally?
Gosh — I think I was born this way. I have always connected to others through their stories. Theater and specifically musical theater (that includes singing and dance) isn’t just appealing to me aesthetically, but it stirs something in me that connects me to humanity. I know some people feel like this about sports or competition — it makes them feel like they belong to a group or team. I am just not wired like that.
What strategies do you employ to motivate and inspire the students you work with?
I approach the work of creating theater seriously. I am particular about each of the elements — the costumes, the set, the props, the blocking, the lights, the sound — all of those elements add to the telling of the story. The choreographers and music director I work with feel the same way. I think the students feel comfortable committing to bringing their best efforts when they see that the rest of the team is doing that too.
You are directing “The Addams Family” and “Fugitive Songs” this summer; what are you most looking forward to with these shows?
I used to direct almost every show at Summer Stock Stage and Eclipse but now that we are growing the program and producing four musicals a summer season that is just not doable. These last years I have moved more into the producer role. Hiring new directors and getting to see their process has been such a great experience for our young actors and for me as a director. I haven’t directed a Summer Stock Stage show since the summer of 2019 so this will be really fun for me. My favorite thing about it is always the opportunity to collaborate with other artists of all ages and stages of their experience.
What advice would you give to a child who is interested in pursuing the performing arts?
DO it. Take every opportunity to learn. Take voice lessons, participate in choir, take acting and dance classes, and look for opportunities in your community to participate in musicals.
What can we look forward to from Summer Stock Stage for the rest of the year?
Four amazing shows:
Eclipse presents “Cabaret” at the Phoenix Theatre June 2-12 with 14 professional actors
Summer Stock Stage presents “The Addams Family” at Park Tudor School June 23-36 with 36 high school performers from 18 different schools
Summer Stock Stage presents “Bring It On” July 28-31 with 45 high school performers from 25 different schools
Eclipse presents “Fugitive Songs” at the Phoenix Theatre August 3-7 with 6 professional actors
You can purchase tickets at Summerstockstage.com
Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven.