About Us

The Summer Theatre Program (STP) was founded at St. Bernadette Church in the summer of 1997 as an outreach to area youth. First begun at St. Mark Parish (Vienna, VA) in 1995, the program moved to St. Bernadette in 1997 for what was intended to be a one-year stop-over. The first year was such a wonderful success that several key people within the Parish and the Youth Ministry program discussed over several months the idea of building a lasting program that would provide an opportunity for fellowship as well as personal and spiritual growth for young thespians in the community. What began as a convenient stopping point for one summer quickly blossomed into one of the most anticipated summer spectacles for students and families.

At its roots, the STP fuels a ministry first, and a production second. In other words, the staff is there for the youth first, to ensure they have fun while enjoying a fruitful and positive experience, and to develop a successful production second. Producer, William Molino, is often heard reminding the staff of volunteers, though, “This is a balancing act. The ability to separate the youth from the success of the production must be weighed against the ability of the youth to enjoy a positive experience against the backdrop of a perceived ‘failed’ production.” And balancing the two has become the hallmark of the program’s success.

In its early days, the Program existed solely at St. Bernadette Church. Rehearsals were held in the cafeteria and over the course of two weeks the Parish’s Gymnasium was converted into an auditorium, of sorts, capable of accommodating between 200 and 250 people per night. The Program’s early years are often described as sparse. The program subsisted on a meager budget with scenery and actors living in very close quarters backstage. The lack of any theatrical lighting system, orchestra pit, and built-in sound system forced the production team to engineer new and creative ways to present various scenes. Further challenging the production team was making the presentation visible to the audience who were seated in folding chairs down the basketball court or stacked in bleachers looking-in from the side.

From the Program’s inception, Bishop Ireton High School has played a critical role in the program’s success. In its early years, Bishop Ireton High School providing technical expertise and equipment and was key to the Program’s ability to convert the gymnasium into an auditorium. In 2004, Bishop Ireton High School increased their support and involvement when they invited the program to use the Garwood Whaley Auditorium for its performances. The move to this professional space was instrumental in the evolution of the Program allowing it to increase the number of young people involved each year while also increasing the scope of productions the program could undertake. The move also brought about great benefits for the audience with better seating and the ability to present a matinee performance. In 2014, after 10 years in residence, Bishop Ireton officially joined St. Bernadette as a co-sponsor of the program.

Since 1997, the Summer Theatre Program has produced a wide-range of successes, including such big-named award winners as Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and the Rogers and Hammerstein timeless classic, The Sound of Music, Meredith Willson’s triumph, The Music Man, and international favorites, Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables.