Wouldn’t you like to enjoy a night under the stars watching an amazing show? The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre brings a unique experience to the Annapolis community, though its live production of musical theatre every summer! This non-profit organization provides a one-of-a-kind sensation, including live music and talented volunteers. In this week’s Friday Focus, we caught up with Communications Director, Lauren Winther-Hansen of Annapolis Summer garden Theatre and learned some of the challenges it takes to run an outdoor theatre, along with some of their favorite moments! Don’t miss out on supporting this fun and energetic organization.
Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.).
A: An outdoor community theatre led by volunteers, Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre produces musical theatre (featuring live music) in a unique, intimate setting in historic Annapolis every summer. Founded in 1966, the theatre is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016. Annapolis summer Garden Theatre has no paid staff. We rely on our community’s patronage, volunteerism, and charitable support to fulfill our mission: To provide opportunities for the community to learn about and experience live theatre under the stars.
Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?
A: I’ve been volunteering with Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre since 1988, so I have many favorite moments! It’s always a joy to hear of Annapolis Summer Garden theatre’s alums who have gone on to work professionally and many have—on Broadway, off-Broadway, in national and international tours and regionally. And of course it’s a thrill when a show is well-received and our audiences leap to their feet to give the cast and crew a standing ovation. But my favorite moments relate to community and friendship. It’s very rewarding to watch a creative artistic team, committed volunteer actors and crew, dedicated Board members, and our loyal patrons, donors, business sponsors and volunteers accomplish something together. One can make great friends along the way. Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre is nothing without our community’s support.
Q: What is your biggest challenge?
A: Where to begin?! Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre has no paid staff, so finding and retaining team members is critical. We’re always looking for more volunteer help. People are busy, their lives change and they move on—it’s understandable. So we’re constantly recruiting new volunteers. Also, we’re very lucky to own our historic building on Compromise Street, but maintaining a historic property is no small challenge for a small, volunteer-led nonprofit. And at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, our stage and seating are outdoors under the stars, which is challenging in many ways. Imagine rehearsing in the 90 degree heat, or monitoring approaching storms to know whether you’ll have the show, or keeping an eye out for the duck that lays her eggs in the theatre every spring. Other theatres don’t have to worry about these things! But when the sun sets and the stage lights come up, our outdoor space is magical. It’s all worth it.
Q: Are there any upcoming events?
A: Sure! Our hit production of “The Producers” ran through September 4 and we presented a special anniversary musical from September 9-18 to celebrate our first 50 years. We go dark in the fall but we’ll pick up again next spring with pre-audition workshops, auditions and rehearsals/performances of our 2017 season, which we’ve not yet announced. But trust me…it’s going to be another stellar season of musical theatre!
Q: How can people get involved with your organization?
A: Visit summergarden.com and click on Get Involved to learn the many ways you can participate. Fill out the Volunteer Form on the Volunteer Opportunities page to get started. You can always e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions. Plus, our Board meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month and all are welcome to attend to learn more about Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. Whether you’re interested in volunteering a couple days a year or joining our leadership team, we’d be thrilled to have you.