Marin Summer Theater (MST) is a youth theater company that rehearses and performs in Marin County, California in June and July. MST company members are students of performing arts between the ages of 13 and 23 and includes student actors, singers, dancers, musicians, directors, designers, technicians, and crew.
Each summer in a seven-week season, MST prepares and presents three fully-staged productions. Each production is performed for one or two weekends. Each summer, shows are selected to provide a breadth of theater experience and to include a play, a dramatic musical, and a dance-heavy musical or review. MST receives support from San Marin High School Music Boosters (a 501c3 organization), San Marin High School, and the Novato Unified School District.
MST was founded in the fall of 2008 when Emily Gates and Patrick Nims saw a need for a low-cost summer performing arts company. At that time there was no summer musical theater program for college age students in Marin County, no low-cost theater arts program for college or high school students, and no "summer stock" program that produced multiple shows with the same core company members.
Nims and Gates envisioned a plan; to create a student summer theater company that would prepare and present three different productions in seven weeks.
The primary objectives of MST are threefold:
The "summer stock" aspect of MST is a key component of the program. Summer stock is an American theater tradition that challenges young performers in many important ways, including:
While Nims and Gates knew that it would be necessary to charge a tuition fee to cover royalty and other production costs to make the program sustainable, every option was explored to keep student fees as low as possible while staying true to MST's goals.
During the first season of MST:
The 2009 student company included fifty-seven students from twenty-three different schools and universities. The average student age was sixteen-and-a-half and there were seventeen college-age company members. Twenty-five orchestra members, stage crew, and technicians participated in the season at no charge. Scholarships were given to six on-stage performers.