Let the show begin

Thursday, February 8, 2018
Okoboji Summer Theatre Executive Director Ruth Ann Burke brought OST members up to date on the theatre's latest plans. The theater's performance schedule was announced Jan. 27 and features familiar titles as well as some new performances for the players. (Photos by Seth Boyes)

OST announces direction for 2018

SPIRIT LAKE ― With the annual University of Okoboji Winter Games barely a week in the past, area thespians are already thinking of summer ― summer theater that is. The Okoboji Summer Theatre announced the lineup for the upcoming season during the Games. The schedule includes some returning titles and a few new to the playhouse.

Stephen Brotebeck was announced as OST's artistic director for the season. He is part of the musical theater staff at San Diego State University in San Diego and has worked with OST as a freelancer in the past, directing "The World Goes Round" last year and "Spitfire Grill" in 2016. Brotebeck also has a few assistant director credits for the broadway productions "Peter and the Star Catcher" and "Ghost the musical."

OST Director of Production and Operations Michael Burke fielded questions about improvements to the campus during the annual update.

Brotebeck was unable to attend the announcement in person, as he was involved with musical theater workshops in China at the time. He told OST members, through a prepared statement, he was honored to be the theater's new director.

"Having spent two summers in Okoboji, I have experienced all that makes Okoboji so special," he said. "The most important of that is the community and the people of this region. In my years of working as a professional director around the country, the amount of support that this community gives to the Okoboji Summer Theatre is unmatched."

OST Executive Director Ruth Ann Burke said the dance and musical theater departments at Stephens College ― which owns the theater and provides a number of players each year ― has recently shifted into high gear.

"Because of that, we decided to make a change this year," Burke said. "We are having four musicals this summer instead of the typical three. So, it puts all that wonderful talent to work and you'll see it up on stage."

The theater will be showing the musicals "Thoroughly Modern Millie," "A Grand Night for Singing," "Godspell" and "Annie." Burke said students have already begun tap dance classes for "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and she expects local audiences will be bustling to buy their tickets for "Annie."

"I went ahead and added an extra show that Friday, because I think we're going to need it," Burke said.

The theater has also slated performances for "Over the River and Through the Woods," "Not Now, Darling," "The Miracle Worker," "I Ought to Be in Pictures" and "Leaving Iowa." Burke said "Leaving Iowa" has graced the OST stage in the past and the theater chose to revisit the story.

"It's a wonderful script ― heartfelt and funny," Burke said. "It's about a young man's memory and he goes back and reflects on all that he maybe didn't appreciate during his upbringing, when he was in the car during family trips. We've all been there."

Aside from the OST main stage, the Boji Bantam Children's Theatre has scheduled four shows for the summer. Burke said this season will capitalize on prominent children's literature titles.

"If you have children or grandchildren, you probably know some of these, and some are classics," she said.

The titles include "Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook," "Sideways Stories from Wayside School," "Stuart Little" and "Go, Dog. Go!" Burke said "Go, Dog. Go!" will be the only musical on the Bantam stage this year, due to the four musicals on the main stage. However, the performance, which is based on the 1961 children's book, will rely more heavily on the players' bodies than their voices.

"It will be a very similar physical comedy feel to what we did last year with 'Cat in the Hat,'" Burke said. "The script is about four pages long, so it is all about the movement."

Offstage, the OST campus has gone through several changes. A new roof was put on the children's theater, a new awning was added to the main facility, new pavement was installed and improvements to the guest artists' cabins are nearing completion.

"We just want to try and take that momentum and keep moving forward," Burke said.

She said the theater hopes to make a few additions to the green spaces on campus, after seeing how often the young student-actors gather there to socialize. Burke said many students have asked to return to the OST campus for another season, and she has even offered a few students positions as theater staff.

"So many of them want to come back and I think that's great," Burke said. "It just tells me that they find this to be a very welcoming, wonderful, enriching, creative place."

Main stage


June 12-17 ― Musical

“Godspell” is a patron favorite and joyously shares the message of kindness, tolerance and love, featuring songs such as "Day by Day," "All for the Best" and "Learn Your Lessons Well."


June 19-24 ― Comedy

Don Browning returns home and relives childhood memories when the family would pile into the car and visit places like Mount Union. “Leaving Iowa” is a postcard to all those long, but wonderful, trips in the family car, with mom humming, dad missing the turnoff and the kids fighting.


June 26 to July 1 ― Comedy

Written by Neil Simon, one of America's most famous and popular playwrights, features Herb, a Hollywood playwright, who is surprised when his forgotten past reappears in the form of Libby, a teenage daughter who has trekked from Brooklyn with dreams of movie stardom. There are plenty of laughs as Herb takes another stab at fatherhood and hopefully gets it right this time.


July 3-8 ― Musical

Audiences are sure to love everything about this Tony Award-winning show. Annie is the little orphan who charms everyone's heart with equal measures of pluck and positivity, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City.


July 10-15 ― Classic

This classic tells the story of Annie Sullivan and her student, blind and mute Helen Keller. Trapped in a secret, silent world and unable to communicate, Helen is at once, violent, spoiled and treated as almost sub-human. Only Annie realizes that there is a mind and spirit waiting to be rescued from the dark, tortured silence.


July 17-22 ― Farce

“Not Now, Darling” takes place at the exclusive London fur salon of Bodley and Crouch where the scene quickly dissolves into havoc with a tangled web of misunderstandings and mistaken identities.


July 24-29 ― Musical

OST is proud to present this musical revue saluting the dynamic songwriting team of Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein. The pair created classic tunes from musicals including “Me and Juliet,” “State Fair,” “Flower Drum Song” and Broadway classics “Carousel,” “Oklahoma!,” The King and I,” “South Pacific,” “Cinderella,” and “The Sound of Music.” Audiences are sure to leave the theater singing as they are reacquainted with some of the most beloved musical theater songs ever written.


July 31 to Aug. 5 ― Comedy

This family comedy centers around Nick, a single, Italian-American boy in New Jersey who spends every Sunday dinner with his grandparents. This weekly routine sparks some shenanigans when they plot and scheme to keep Nick from moving away.


Aug. 7-12 ― Musical

Closing out the 61st season is the six-time Tony-award winning musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Don't miss this tap dancing favorite as Millie ventures to the Big Apple and finds herself in a series of madcap adventures as she sets her sights on marrying her wealthy boss.

The OST box office opens June 4 and can be reached at 332-7773. Subscriber pickup will be from noon to 4 p.m. beginning Saturday, June 2. Performances are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with a 4:30 p.m. matinee Saturday and a 6 p.m. performance Sunday. Ticket prices are $20 for nonmusical performances and $22 for musicals. Groups of 10 or more will receive a $2 discount per ticket. Two-for-one pricing specials do not apply to groups. For groups of 100-plus, an added matinee may be an option.

Boji Bantam Children's Theater


June 20-23

A hilarious and heartfelt tale based on the best-selling book series by Barbara Park. Something terrible happened to Junie B. Jones at school. Someone stole her new furry mittens. So when Junie B. finds a wonderful pen of many colors, she should be allowed to keep it, right? Finders keepers, losers weepers. And there's a new boy in kindergarten and he is the handsomest. But both Grace and Lucille want him to be their boyfriend Maybe he will love Junie B. when he sees her wonderful pen. It is alright to keep it, right? Junie B. Jones is not a crook ... or is she?


July 4-7

This 1978 children's novel takes place in the fictional Wayside School. The school is 30 stories tall, due to a construction error, with one classroom on each floor. However there is no 19th floor. This charming story is about the adventures of Mrs. Jewel's class on the 30th floor.

'GO, DOG. GO!'

July 18-21

Based on the classic 1961 children's book, “Go, Dog. Go!” describes the actions and interactions of a group of highly mobile dogs, who operate cars and other conveyances in pursuit of work, play and a final mysterious goal ― a dog party.


Aug. 1-4

When the Littles go to an orphanage to adopt a new family member, a charming young mouse named Stuart is chosen. While George is initially unwelcoming of his new brother, the family cat, Snowbell, is even less enthusiastic about having a mouse master and plots to get rid of him. Against all odds, Stuart resolves to face them with as much pluck, love and courage as he can muster. In doing so, he shows his beloved new family that great things can truly come in small packages.

Boji Bantam performances run Wednesday to Saturday and begin at 10:30 a.m. Tickets are $5 per child or adult. Contact the box office after June 4 at 332-7773 for information about group rates.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: