As both a performer and director, Lindsey Kelstrom noticed a frustrating trend in many local theatrical productions.
More often than not, there were more male than female roles in shows put on by community theater companies, yet there were usually more women than men auditioning for parts.
The high female turnout at auditions mixed with few roles for women meant talented performers were regularly turned away. Kelstrom, the board president of Cache Theatre Company, said her colleagues were bothered by this trend as well.
“I’ve been that turned away, talented woman, and so I know how it feels,” Kelstrom said. “It is so hard because every time you are turned away, that confidence goes away a little bit and it makes it that much harder to come back and keep trying.”
To address this issue, Kelstrom and her fellow board members wanted to do something that would allow them to celebrate female talent and create more performing opportunities for women in the valley.
With the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage approaching next year, they decided it would be the perfect time to put together a season of shows featuring strong women and female-heavy casts.
“Any time you shine a light on a group that goes a little bit more unnoticed or underappreciated, that is always a plus for any community,” Kelstrom said.
The company’s season kicks off next month with the musical “Bright Star.” The show will run from Nov. 7-18. Next is the play “Steel Magnolias,” running Feb. 7-17 and then the musical “Matilda,” April 10-25. In the summer will be the fourth show, the company’s kids camp production. This show has not been announced yet but will follow the theme of strong female roles.
“(This season is) really important because it is a voice that is really under-served in Cache Valley,” said Tanner Benson, director of “Bright Star.” “Over and over again we see ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,’ we see ‘The Music Man,’ we see ‘Oklahoma.’ We see these shows that are about men that fall in love and win the woman in the end.”
Although romance is still a part of the company’s season, Benson said it is a secondary part of the plots.
“There are so many talented actresses in the valley,” Benson said. “To give them a chance to play something other than a romantic lead is really special for them.”
In the cast of “Bright Star,” about half of the participants are female and half are male. In the production of “Steel Magnolias” next year, Kelstrom said the entire cast will be made up of women and that the theater company is trying to match that with an all-female production team.
“We want to give opportunities to women not only on stage but in their creative abilities behind the scenes and off-stage as well,” Kelstrom said.
Maryanne Sidwell, director of “Steel Magnolias,” is really excited for the uniqueness of this opportunity.
“It is lovely because you don’t see that very often in the theater community,” Sidwell said. “There are plenty of women who do community theater and theater around the country, but it is rare to find a situation where it is an all-female production team as well as an all-female cast.”
Kelstrom said the company is brainstorming other ways to continue providing more performing opportunities for local women, such as an all-female concert.
“The more support we get from the community in coming out to these productions, the more we can continue productions like this,” Kelstrom said.
Individual tickets for all four shows as well as a season ticket package are available at cachetheatre.com.