History of Leawood Stage Company 1997 to 2018
In January of 1997, Elizabeth Hoyt and Kathy Roberts attended a Shakespeare reading sponsored by the Leawood Arts Council. The question “Are there plans for a community theatre in Leawood?” was posed to Arts Council Chair, Mike Eggleston. Several weeks later, Mike contacted Liz and Kathy to ask if they would be interested in proposing the concept, along with a budget, to the Arts Council. After considerable research, proposals were presented to the Arts Council and the City Council. Both Councils gave unanimous approval with a commitment for half the funds to mount a musical production. The City suggested the other half to come from fundraising activities.
Through the efforts of many people over the next year, the Leawood Stage Company was created as a 501c-3 nonprofit organzation and sub-committee of the Leawood Arts Council. Mark Edelman, of the Theatre League, was instrumental in helping identify our limitations and goals. Colleen Thom, of the American Heartland Theatre, became our consultant and brought us the idea for our first show, as well as our director, C. Richard Pond. A Board of Directors was formed, volunteers were recruited, and fundraising efforts got underway. Christopher Hoyt, attorney and CPA, worked with Mike Eggleston to prepare our By-laws, Articles of Incorporation and filings for our 501(c)3 status.
Finally, in July of 1999, we presented our first production “Some Enchanted Evening…the Songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein” in the outdoor amphitheater at City Hall. It was a smashing success!
Programming expanded to include the Youth Performance Players (2000-2005), The Stage Company Singers Annual Showcases, and partnerships such as the Friends of the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival, Tea with Shakespeare, camps and Gala fundraisers and others. The LSC has also participated in “Spotlight on Leawood”, sponsored by the Leawood Chamber of Commerce.
In 2002, the summer production was made a part of the Leawood Parks and Recreation Department becoming fully funded by the City. Gerald Snider was hired that year as our first Leawood Coordinator of Cultural Arts. April Bishop replaced Jerry in the fall of 2005.
Since 1998 the Leawood Stage Company has worked in partnership with the City of Leawood and Leawood Parks & Recreation Department to provide high quality entertainment, while educating and enriching lives in the local community. LSC presents theatrical productions, educational programming, and events throughout the year.
LSC is an all volunteer organization from the board to the members of the cast, musicians, and staff that work vigorously behind the scenes. A total of over 15,000 estimated volunteer hours each year make Leawood Stage Company programs successful, enhancing the lives of thousands of audience members annually.
Leawood Stage Company performs in the Oak Room in the Community Center on the lower level of City Hall, the Lodge at Ironwoods Park and at the Ironwood Amphitheater.
Each summer LSC holds a large Broadway style musical production. The 7 night performance schedule attracts large crowds. Each night over 100 volunteers give their time to participate in this community event. Auditions are held each spring with 100 to 145 people auditioning. Cast ages range from 7 to 77.
This is the 20th anniversary of a summer musical production. Productions began with musical reviews held in back of City Hall. Shows have included: Some Enchanted Evening 1999, Over the Rainbow 2000, Imports 2001, Sondheim & Company 2002, and Celebrate Broadway 2003.
In the fall of 2004 the shows moved to Ironwoods Park and grew to Broadway musicals with Red Hot and Cole 2004 inside the Lodge. The next summer company moved to the Ironwoods Amphitheater with South Pacific. Oklahoma!, Music Man, Annie Get Your Gun, Brigadoon, Guys & Dolls, Bye Bye Birdie, Fiddler on the Roof, The Sound of Music, Hello Dolly, Oliver! and Once Upon a Mattress and Annie followed on consecutive summers at the amphitheatre.
Shows performed in other venues include The Fantasticks 2004, Our Town 2005, and My Fair Lady in 2016 were performed in Leawood Churches. The Stage Company began performing script-in-hand staged readings accompanied by interaction between the playwrights and the audience. Those shows include Mary & Myra 2009, Crying on Trains 2010, Down on Memminger and Six One Act Plays 2011. Each of the script in hand productions has been accented with an educational workshop for the community.
Another production style that has become popular with LSC recently is a concert style performance of Broadway shows. These full productions without sets and limited costuming have included She Loves Me 2009 in the Oak Room, Sunday in the Park with George 2010 in the Lodge, and 2012 featured Titanic: the Musical on the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the ship. The first 2 of these were also presented Dessert Theater style on night performances.
Nunsense was performed in the Lodge fall 2012. Other musicals presented at the Lodge include A Little Night Music in 2014, British Invasion in 2015 and Sweeney Todd in 2016 and then Bonnie and Clyde in 2017. Our first comedic play Harvey was presented in the Lodge in November 2013.
In the spring of 2013 LSC tried a new format by presenting a cabaret style show in the Oak Room of City Hall with Songs for a New World.
Other shows performed in the Oak Room of Leawood City Hall include: The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) 2005, Watch on the Rhine 2014, and Promise, Promises in 2015. Due to the expanding popularity of LSC and the limitations of the room, we have been looking at options for performance space.