SRT celebrates 41 years of entertainment at SRJC

Courtesy of SRT

Ken Kutska, Assistant A&E Editor

This summer Santa Rosa Junior College will showcase student talent during the 2012 Summer Repertory Theater, celebrating its 41st season.

Each summer, students and faculty donate their time and skills to the art of the stage. For a seven-week period, actors, set designers, musicians and coordinators are given the opportunity to develop a wide range of talents.

The SRT has been running longer than most other major school productions in the country. This year SRT artistic director James Newman starts his seventh season spearheading the program.

The SRT has an extremely demanding schedule, leaving very little time for reprieve. This summer’s schedule will showcase witty comedies, emotional dramas and sing-along musicals. The program is one of the last in North America to produce plays and musicals in a rotating format.

“It’s going to be a great season. One of my favorite things about SRT is that we do five shows on a rotating rep. We’re doing all five shows simultaneously so the actors, technicians and staff get to be involved in working on five incredibly different things and the audience actually gets to see five very, very different things,” Newman said. “The shows themselves are always really varied and you’re working on a period comedy, some sort of tragedy and working on a great musical. This season is lots of big sort of silly stuff.”

This summer will feature three musicals. Jeff Whitty’s, “Avenue Q the Musical” with lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx, is designed to be focused around handmade puppets doing very adult things, which may seem to be controversial at first glance.

The 1980s film inspired musical “Xanadu” features a roller disco type atmosphere with a lot of jukebox style music from the likes of Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra. It’s a family friendly adaptation with more humor and fun.

The last musical in the set will be Bob Fosse’s, “Sweet Charity.” Expect a lot of singing and dancing in this show.

Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” is currently the longest continually running play in the set, with a 60-year reign in the West End of London.

The last play will be Sarah Ruhl’s “Passion Play.” This will only be the fourth or fifth time that Ruhl’s play has been performed. Ruhl is widely considered to be one of the best upcoming North American female playwrights.

With all this experience, it’s no surprise that most if not all of the students involved in SRT go on to better themselves and their careers. “It works well, it’s an 11 week program. Our students sort of describe it as like having a whole other year under their belts. Because they are working on five shows simultaneously in 11 weeks they get another whole year,” Newman said. “Our students routinely go on to become working professionals. We have most students working regionally all over the country.”

It’s important to point out how beneficial this program is to both the college and the community in general. “I think we’re very lucky both as a school and as a community. I think when times get tough communities need to grace a specialized program. This is a very special program. We’ve been around a long time. It’s easy sometimes for people to forget that what makes us a community is the special things,” Newman said.

Thirty-thousand people come to see the shows each summer. “That makes us the size of a small to medium regional theater. The amount of support from the community is astounding. People are rabid about it and they love us. Some have been coming for 20 odd years. That means a lot to me because what we’re doing is training the next generation of theater artists,” Newman said.

To subscribe, get tickets or find information call 707-527-4307 or go to