Wildwood Summer Theatre (WST) is a 501(c)3 non-profit theatre company incorporated in the state of Maryland. WST is a hands-on learning theatre and the DC metro area’s oldest entirely youth-run theatre. Its company membership is comprised of talented local teens, college students, and young professionals ages 14 to 25 living and working in the area who volunteer their time. The Board of Directors and company staff members have significant experience in theatre and the performing arts, including performing arts majors who will continue on to related professional careers. Staff members guide and instruct newer members in the basics of theatre production while continuing to refine the skills necessary for their positions and responsibilities. The staff brings outside talent and experience, applying them to the unique theatre setting provided by Wildwood Summer Theatre.
WST was founded in 1965 by a group of students from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland. These theatrically minded students wanted to extend their high school musical experience into the summer. However, they were unable to find an adult sponsor, so they decided to strike out on their own. That summer, on a shoestring budget, and with little in the way of material supplies or support, they put on a production of Bye Bye Birdie. The show was a rousing success, and WST was born. For the last 50+ years, WST has worked to promote and foster the education of Washington, DC area youth in the dramatic, musical, business, technical, and social aspects of theatre through producing one to two musicals a summer with the entire company aged 14 to 25.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: “How do I join WST?”
A: WST provides numbers opportunities to all kinds of young adults interested in theatre. Please navigate to the Cast, Crew, or Pit pages for more information on joining one (or more) of these groups! Watch the homepage for information on how to interview for a staff position - interviews are held in January of each year.
Q: “What is your schedule like?”
A: Rehearsals and work sessions are held during weekday evenings in June and early July from 6:30pm to 10:30pm. At the beginning of the season, depending on their roles, most cast members will only be required at 2 or 3 rehearsals per week. In mid-July, the crew spends about a week installing the set, lighting and sound in the performance space while the cast (and orchestra) have full rehearsals. The following week, dress rehearsals with full tech and orchestra are held in the space, leading up to opening night. Social and fundraising events are often held on Saturdays or Sundays. See the cast, crew or orchestra pages for more information.
Q: “How can I sign my child up for your camp? Do you offer classes?”
A: Wildwood Summer Theatre is not a camp or an educational institution. As a membership-based organization, we pride ourselves on “learning by doing” and sharing knowledge and expertise among all members.
Q: “What do you pay? Do you provide housing?”
A: Wildwood Summer Theatre is a non-profit community theatre; we do not provide housing or monetary compensation. Wildwood is a completely volunteer-driven community theatre, rewarding its members only with the experience gained and enjoyment provided by mounting a high-quality theatrical production.
Q: I’ve never been involved in theatre before–can I join WST?
A: Cast and orchestra members are selected by audition, so experience in theatre or related areas (dance, singing, playing an instrument) is helpful. The only requirement for joining the technical crew is a willingness to work hard, learn and contribute: all levels of experience are welcome.
Q: I’m a theatre professional with a long resume–can I join WST?
A: As long as you’re between 14 and 25, we’d love for you to join us and share your expertise. Many of our staff have professional theatre experience, while others contribute their knowledge of the business or music world.
Q: “Does it cost anything to participate in WST?”
A: All members of the company are asked to contribute dues. This includes everyone–the staff, cast, crew, and orchestra. Dues money is immediately channeled into the purchase of materials, space rental, and other goods and services necessary to mount our production, as well as company events. Josh Keller, Conductor and Musical Director for 2004′s Sweeney Todd, wrote,
I know what many of you are thinking: “He’s asking me to play for nothing, and on top of that asking for money?” Wildwood is not a normal gig. Most musicians are used to showing up for a few rehearsals, playing the shows and going home. Wildwood is much more than that. It’s a community in which everyone forms very strong bonds. It’s a rare opportunity to be a part of something that’s entirely created by you and your peers. I can’t say enough about the people I’ve met and the experience I’ve gained as part of Wildwood. Your dues mean that you’re a committed part of the company as much as every other member of the cast, crew and staff, right on up to the Producer. Wildwood is known for doing seriously good musical theatre, and by asking for your small contribution, we hope to create a sense of shared ownership of this accomplishment throughout the company.
Q: “I’m in my late 20s, but I look younger. Can I audition?”
Q: “My daughter’s 12, but mature for her age and incredibly talented. Can she join WST?”
A: Wildwood Summer Theatre is strict about its age requirement: all company members must be greater than 14 and less than 26 years of age as of June 1 of the current season. To allow older members would compromise our unique status as an all-youth theatre, while children younger than 14 will feel out-of-place working and socializing with the older members.
Q: How can I donate my leftover paint, building supplies, tools, costumes, antiques or other materials?
Q: How can I donate money?
A: Wildwood Summer Theatre gladly accepts most donations of material, and the quality of our production depends on your support! Please visit our Contribute page for more information, or contact the Director of Fundraising, if you would like to make a donation – we’ll even try to arrange a way to pick it up!
Q: I need to fulfill a community service requirement–can I do WST for my hours?
A: Check with your community service coordinator – WST may qualify for some types of community service. If it does, please tell your supervisor and give them the appropriate paperwork before you begin working (For crew, tell the technical director, for cast, tell the stage manager, for the orchestra, tell the conductor.)