The show must go on! Well, at least this summer Island Theatre Workshop can do just that. After canceling last year’s musical because of COVID, they are excited about offering a live, outdoor salute to 25 years of Broadway musicals on the lawn of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on Sunday, August 22, and Monday, August 23, aptly titled “Sunday in the Park.”
Still unable to perform their major, annual summer production at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center, they set their minds to devising another outlet. Artistic director Kevin Ryan says, “We thought, ‘What can we do?’ and decided we could easily bring some Broadway music from some of the shows we have done over the past 25 years, put together a revue, and stage it outdoors. We couldn’t think of a more idyllic setting than the park between the Whaling Church and the Dr. Daniel Fisher House.” There will be 20 pieces from 13 shows, with 12 people performing.
Island Theater Workshop was founded in 1968 as a summer theater program for children. “Probably the most popular thing is the Summer Academy of Children’s Theater (for ages 8-18), which has been around since 1968,” Ryan explained. “The program is a well-rounded teaching experience with many facets. Professional theater people or theater educators come from all over the country to spend the summer working with the children.”
Within this all-inclusive experience, on any given day the kids do yoga in the morning, a physical warm-up afterwards, moving on to a theater game or two. Then children do vocal warm-ups, a session on dialogue and lines for their show, working with a professional musician as an accompanist. The kids also learn about what it’s like to work on a stage crew helping build, paint, and move the set pieces. Each session culminates in a final, live musical with the children in it. Ryan says, “We miss it, we want to get back.”
The completely volunteer company also offers the winter afterschool drama program, Apprentice Players, for ages 8 to 18 years old, featuring classes and productions.
The New Directors Studio program is for both established and new directors who submit works which are then performed by people in the company. New directors have the opportunity to work in a mentorship relationship, and sometimes there are experienced directors who have never worked with the company. “It gives us an opportunity to have a little fun to play with new people as well as existing folks we haven’t worked with before,” Ryan says.
Then there is the Family Classic Theatre program, consisting of a full-scale community theater, main stage production. Their open audition is for anyone from 8 years old and up — with people as old as 98 who have performed. Ryan explains, “As long as someone is not in danger, we want them on the stage if they can be. Also, sometimes equity players get releases and can work with us too, but typically 90 percent is from local families and folks on the Vineyard.”
Ryan says about their upcoming event, “We want people to know that we miss them, and we need them to come out to the show. People are so starved right now for entertainment and music, yet they are not all ready to be in the confines of a theater … But we’re hopeful that this time next year we will all be back.”
Performances will be outdoors on the lawn of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown on Sunday, August 22, at 3 pm and 6:30 pm, and on Monday, August 23, at 6:30 pm. Bring a blanket to sit on the lawn. Tickets available at itwtickets.org.