Manchester Summerstage Celebrating 50 years of Youth Theater in Manchester


Begun as Manchester’s Youth Arts Festival in 1972, the primary focus was a full-scale production of Broadway musical comedy.  By 1977 the program had become a tax-exempt organization called Summershow that promised “with the continuing support of the community the Summershow should continue to provide the youth of Manchester with an exciting and worthwhile summer experience for many years to come.” 

In 1993 it became Manchester Summerstage, “working to encourage and develop the creative and artistic talent of the youth of the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea.”  Today, Summerstage works to enhance participant’s life skills by building self-confidence and poise, emphasizing a strong work ethic, and fostering cooperation and creativity, whether in front of the curtain or behind the scenes. 

Through all the changes, “the exuberant good will of the young people who participate in the program remains a constant, obvious to all who see each summer’s production”, stated Summershow Director, Jim Kitendaugh.  He also shared this memory in the 1977 show book “I was once asked by a student to explain why I love theatre.  My answer, even in the face of all of the collaborative arts and technologies which make up theatre was a ‘shared experience of joy’.”  Summerstage Director, Carol Gambino shared that same thought in the 2000 show book “theatre is a shared experience of joy” and added “I hope that when you look up at the stage tonight you will see the joy on each and every face”.

Manchester Summerstage will be producing “Grease” this summer.  The group currently has 50 student actors, singers, and dancers rehearsing.  In July it expects another 20 plus students to begin the technical aspects of the show and create sets.

Look for them during the Fourth of July parade, the Red White & Blue breakfast this weekend, and during Music in the Park intermissions and of course during the group’s production of Grease July 28, 29, 30 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, July 31 at 2 p.m.

Happy 50th Anniversary to all who have shared the joy of theatre through this program!