Cover image for Summer stock : an American theatrical phenomenon
Summer stock : an American theatrical phenomenon
LoMonaco, Martha Schmoyer.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxi, 293 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN2269 .L66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



ummer stock theater is an American invention. From Memorial Day to Labor Day each year, rustic playhouses open their doors to the words of Ibsen, Shakespeare, Neil Simon, and a host of others and to the performances of big stars and aspiring beginners. While not exactly as depicted in the MGM film Summer Stock!, these theaters allowed 'city folk' partaking of the country life to spend their evenings in the worthwhile pursuit of culture. Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco's Summer Stock! is both a terrific history of the Straw Hat Circuit and a look at how American leisure was shaped in the early twentieth century by a group of savvy theater entrepreneurs. Anyone who remembers stepping inside one of these theaters on a hot summer night to see Hayfever or West Side Story will cherish Summer Stock!

Author Notes

Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco is the Chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts of Fairfield University.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

The phrase summer stock conjures images of teenagers entertaining their town in bucolic barn settings, but the reality is actually more complex, writes LoMonaco (theater, Fairfield Univ.). Here, she tracks summer stock's rise and fall (and maybe rise again) through several defunct and operating companies based in the East. It all began with the appearance in the 1920s and 1930s of a rising urban middle class that had the benefit of annual paid vacations. As this group escaped the heat and grit of city summers in an undeveloped rural landscape, summer theaters were established to provide entertainment. It's important to note that these theaters operated outside of what LoMonaco calls the "stranglehold" of New York producers; the successes of the early venues prompted the creation of still more companies, and the adventure of summer stock ultimately became the business of an industry. Though well documented, with a lot of theatrical anecdotes featuring popular actors, LoMonaco's chronicle fails to reflect the freewheeling nature of its subject. As the first scholarly book-length effort on summer stock, however, it is recommended for academic libraries with theater history programs and for theater professionals. Larry Schwartz, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Moorhead (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

LoMonaco (Fairfield Univ.) has written an informative and entertaining history of that unique American theatrical institution, summer stock. The preface and introduction provide the reader with an excellent definition of summer stock and how Broadway saw summer stock as an extension of mainstream theater. The first three chapters trace summer stock's development from Provincetown's Wharf Theatre in 1915 to the incredible growth in stock companies during the 1920s and 1930s. Subsequent chapters remind the reader that stock companies played an important part in creating cultural identities for many rural communities. The last two chapters examine the development of regional summer circuits in the 1950s (most notably Kenley Players), the decline of stock in the 1970s and 1980s, and the recent revival of summer stock companies. The quality of the research is impressive, and LoMonaco's love of the subject matter comes through in her writing. The partial list of summer stock companies is a real plus for the volume. The bibliography is excellent, but the index could be more complete. A terrific read. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Collections supporting the study of theater and popular culture at all levels. M. D. Whitlatch Buena Vista University

Table of Contents

Marian Seldes
Acknowledgementsp. ix
List of Illustrationsp. xiii
Forewordp. xv
Prefacep. xvii
Introductionp. 1
1 Of Entertainment and Art: The Parallel Roads to Summer Stockp. 15
2 The Pioneersp. 37
3 Broadway in a Barnp. 61
4 The Men and Women in the Straw Top Hatp. 81
5 Judy and Mickey Join the Union: The Regulation of Summer Stockp. 105
6 The Barn's New Cash Cowp. 129
7 Musicals, Tents, and Terrellp. 155
8 A New Definition of the Small Summer Barnp. 183
9 Still Here: Summer Stock in the Twenty-First Centuryp. 211
Appendix Partial List of Summer Stock Theatresp. 231
Notesp. 253
Bibliographyp. 275
Interviews Conducted by the Authorp. 287
Indexp. 289