Can the local theater with the largest audience in the Valley also be considered its best-kept secret? Super Summer Theatre produces four shows every summer for an average audience of 950 people per night. There are Strip shows that would kill for those numbers, let alone local theater troupes. And all of this with no advertising budget or fundraising to speak of.
“It’s word of mouth, it really is,” says SST Chairman of the Board Jerry Brooks. “It’s a grassroots method of getting information out there. That’s kind of what it’s been.” But not for much longer.
The Reynolds Foundation has challenged Super Summer Theatre with a $500,000 matching grant. If SST can raise that amount by December 2015, the Reynolds Foundation will match it, giving the group a $1 million windfall that would go toward repairing facilities at the ranch, hiring someone to manage new Las Vegas rehearsal studios and preparing for a rainy day—literally. “If the stage is down, we can’t sell tickets and we have no income,” Brooks explains.
That’s part of the reason Super Summer Theatre opened a new rehearsal space and scene shop here in town. In addition to saving money and time finding and renting rehearsal spots, the new space—which features two dance studios and a large room with the same footprint as the outdoor stage—can also be rented out by other local troupes, a new revenue stream for SST. “We’re wanting it to become available to directors or teachers who want to have a reasonably priced space where they can do a workshop; they have access 24/7,” Brooks says. “So if Cirque or one of the entertainment groups needs a rehearsal space at 2 in the morning it’s something that’s going to be available.”
The new space and the matching grant will bring organizational changes for SST, which has hired Tom Kovach to lead the fundraising charge. “We looked around for somebody who was going to be able to appreciate what we’re trying to provide,” Brooks says. Super Summer Theatre isn’t giving up on word of mouth, though. “Once we can get our foot in the door and talk to somebody [in a position to give], we’re pretty much able to sell the product,” he says—and he’s got 38 years of success to back him up on that.
Super Summer Theatre Current production: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, through July 26, supersummertheatre.org.