Repertory Theatre of St. Louis ("The Rep")

The idea of bringing professional actors and college theatre students together was not new to Webster College (now Webster University). Beginning in 1962, the Theatre Impact company successfully used just such an approach to bring theatre to the community for four summers. With the completion of the Loretto-Hilton Center in 1966, productions were moved indoors and offered during the regular academic year.

When Webster College established the resident repertory company in 1966, it also registered a number of "firsts": "...first professional repertory theatre in St. Louis, the first continuing Equity company-in-residence in the state of Missouri."1 Sr. Marita Michenfelder (later Marita Woodruff) stated that "this experiment...has never before been tried on the undergraduate level.2

A 25th anniversary publication recounted the early accomplishments of the company: "The newly-formed acting ensemble, which consisted of 25 professional actors, directors and designers and five students from the college's theatre arts department, made its public debut in the Loretto-Hilton Center on July 1, 1966. It's first production: The Private Ear and The Public Eye, one of five rotating shows featured in an inaugural Webster Drama Festival. By the end of 1967-68 season the resident company had producted 18 plays, mostly classics...Launched a statewide tour of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night's Dream...Established The Magic Circle to appeal to younger audiences... Hired an Educational Project Director to arrange for actors to appear in secondary schools and colleges...Kicked off its first season subscription drive."3

Unfortunately, the company was deeply in debt after only four years. President Leigh Gerdine suspended operations in March 1970 because of the financial situation. 4 The Rep reopened in the fall of 1971 as an independent organization.5 Despite no longer being administered by Webster, the Rep has continued to partner with the university to provide quality theatre and educational experiences.

Visit the official website for the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis for more information. An archive of past productions is also available.

Notes

1Beltz, Maggie. (1966, April 15). Professionals combine with students. The Web, vol. 43, no. 11, p. 3.
2Professionals on campus to augment drama dept. (1966, April 15). The Web, vol. 43,, no. 11, p. 4.
3The Repertory Theatre 25th. (1991). Webster University Archives, St. Louis, MO.
4Hoener, Kathi. (1970, March 13). 'Forrest' suspended. The Web, vol. 48, no. 20, p. 3.
5The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis: the Idea, the Formation, the Continuing Commitment. (1986). Webster University Archives, St. Louis, MO.

References

Drama Festival to open with flourish of firsts. (1966, May 6). The Web, vol. 43, no. 12, p. 7.
Young actors get pro spirit in repertory. (1966, September 9). The Web, vol. 44, no. 1, p. 3.

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