Wildwood Summer Theatre is the only fully independent youth-run summer theater in the Washington, D.C. area. Initially created, and now sustained, by theatrically minded students and young professionals, Wildwood has produced at least one musical each year since 1965. Participants initially learn about, and subsequently come to teach, the practical realities of mounting a full-scale theatrical production. The most remarkable aspect of the theater is that all company members are 14 to 25 years of age, all are volunteers.
Wildwood Summer Theatre is a young people's theatre. Everyone, from the technicians and chorus members, to the Director, Producer and Board of Directors, fall within the same age range. This dynamic gives youth the rare opportunity to participate in all aspects of the production, including management, design, performance, and technical crafts. The company allows young people to experience facets of theater production not normally open to them. Wildwood Summer Theatre prides itself on being a learning theater; each generation teaches the next.
Wildwood Summer Theatre was founded in 1965 by a group of students from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland. These theatrically minded students wanted to extend their high school musical experience into the summer. However, they were unable to find an adult sponsor, so they decided to strike out on their own. That summer, on a shoestring budget, and with little in the way of material supplies or support, they put on a production of Bye, Bye Birdie. The show was a rousing success, and WST was born. For the last forty years, WST has presented at least one, and occasionally two musical productions, with the entire company aged 14 to 25.
Some former WST participants have gone on to notable careers in theater and film. Jonathan Hadary, the founder and first producer/director of WST, is a Helen Hayes Award winning actor based in New York, and has also starred in such movies as Intolerable Cruelty and Bait. Michael Mayer Directed and Dick Scanlan Co-Wrote the Broadway hit Thoroughly Modern Millie. The two met while performing as Jets in WST's 1978 production of West Side Story. Many members of WST's cast and crew study theatrical arts in college, and continue to pursue their love of theater throughout adulthood. Visit the Alumni page for more information.