The curtain has lowered on the 61st season at Okoboji Summer Theatre. What a season it was!
Nine shows in nine weeks is unheard of at any other summer stock or playhouse in the entire country. I had the privilege of interviewing all the guest directors who came from all over the United States to director and/or choreograph productions here at OST. Each and everyone of them told me about the huge respect the performing arts community has for the efficient way the OST production company is operated, how talented the Stephens College student actors, costume designers and technicians are, and how much the performing arts are welcomed and respected by the general public here in the Iowa Great Lakes Region. They also pay homage to the new cottages on the OST grounds, where they are housed during their stay.
Stephens College has owned and operated OST for all these many decades and has continued to improve the campus as well as the quality of their shows.
Executive Director Ruth Ann Burke and Artistic Director Stephen Brotebeck are to be congratulated on the best overall season in OST history. They chose to bring us four new plays we had not seen before, brought back some of our favorites and treated us to four musicals for the first time.
The 2018 season opened with the musical "Godspell." It was the best opener ever and really set the bar high for the plays to come. It was fantastic!
We got to laugh and reminisce about vacation trips with our children during "Leaving Iowa."
"I Ought to Be in Pictures" brought television and movie star Jay Huguley here from California to play the father with a daughter in her late teens. We laughed and laughed as the story unfolded. All three in that small cast gave wonderful performances.
The musical "Annie" included local youngsters as well as the Stephens students and professionals. We all were singing along with them. It was delightful.
"The Miracle Worker" also included local youngsters and several had to act as though they were blind. It was an amazing experience to watch them do a fantastic job.
The only close to R-rated play of the summer was the farce "Not Now, Darling" and it was hilarious. We laughed all night long and the slamming doors associated with a farce were not a problem.
"A Grand Night for Singing" gave us a vocal and dance fest that was so very enjoyable. I am glad they included dance students in their group of actors for the first time this year.
Four generations of my family attended "Over the River and Through the Woods." From the oldest at 94 to the youngest at 12, they all loved it. We laughed and shed a tear or two. Television and movie actor Mark Taylor came from Hollywood to be in this outstanding cast. The acting was first class and we won’t forget this one soon.
The final offering for this summer was the musical "Thoroughly Modern Millie." The costumes alone were worth the price of the ticket. The singing, dancing, costumes and clever set made this excellent in every way.
The performing arts students are receiving a well-earned semester of credit for their summer in Okoboji and they learned from some of the best this country has to offer. They were part of a wonderful variety of productions. I hope they realize how much we appreciate their efforts not only on the main stage but with the four productions in the Boji Bantam Children’s Theatre that were extremely well-presented.
Boji Bantam offers parents and grandparents the opportunity to introduce small children to live theatre. My kids and grandkids all started out there and their love for live theatre is extremely strong today.
The season is over. The awning will be removed from the front entrance area for winter. The cute cottages will be cleaned and closed up. A major renovation project on the kitchen and dining hall is set to begin. Burke and her crew have returned to Stephens for their winter teaching duties.
Brotebeck has driven back to San Diego where he is associate professor in the fine arts program at San Diego State University. Both Burke and Brotebeck will be back next year. The students loaded up their cars and are taking a brief week or two at home with families before returning to Columbia, Missouri when the fall classes begin.
Brotebeck told us the entire lineup for 2019 will be announced at Winter Games in January. However he did announce the final musical for next year will be "Momma Mia." That is quite a teaser for us to ponder. Wonder what other great offerings they will come up with?
They leave us on a high note and will most likely return the same way.
Thank you to everyone at Okoboji Summer Theatre for a wonderful season! See you next summer!