Assemble 45 actors, 40 technicians, 25 staff members, a stage newly built each summer, compelling plays and musicals, wonderful sponsors, 12,000 enthusiastic audience members, and you will have an idea of the magnitude and degree of pure fun that invades the University of Kentucky’s Arboretum for three weeks each July. This wonderful creature is SUMMERFEST.
SummerFest is Lexington’s vital and compelling Summer Theatre experience. It began about twenty-eight years ago as The Lexington Shakespeare Festival, and in 2007, under a new Board of Directors and staff, became Summerfest, one of the region’s oldest continually operating Summer Theatre experiences. It is an experience that has our audience eagerly anticipating each new season, often stopping and asking staff and actors on the street what the new season will bring and when will tickets go on sale. We have seen two and three generations of many families out under the stars, enjoying a picnic basket, perhaps a little wine, and some of the best theatre that this area has to offer.
Over the years SummerFest has presented many of William Shakespeare’s comedies, histories, and tragedies. We have mounted more modern classics such as TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD, THE MIRACLE WORKER, FRANKENSTEIN, CYRANO de BERGERAC, THE CRUCIBLE, LORD OF THE FLIES, and INHERIT THE WIND. Beginning about ten or so years ago, SummerFest also became a presenter of musicals. RENT, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, ONCE ON THIS ISLAND, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, to name a few, have all shared their special worlds with our audiences. We believe that each summer we present a variety of shows that will surely please all tastes, and the quality is such that our audiences will discover that they cannot stay away.
It must also be said that SummerFest works every summer to incorporate many of the young people who are participating in the Kentucky Conservatory Theatre’s summer intensive theatre workshop experience. In fact, it must be said that KCT and SummerFest are very much joined at the hip in terms of providing performing and technical opportunities for both experienced actors and the young members of the conservatory. We are, so to speak, “paying forward” the training and performing experiences of those who have or will have participated in the conservatory. We can now say that many of the young actors who worked as interns or played small roles-and, yes, some big roles-have gone out into the world of theatre and do return to grace SummerFest’s stage. It is a wonderful thing to see how a young actor played Juliet here one summer and has just earned a recurring role on the BBC’s Downton Abbey!
We at SummerFest know that all of you will thrill to this compelling outdoor, live theatre experience and will surely want to mark your calendars so as not to miss next year’s SummerFest. Please enjoy the summer with us!