Harry Dietzler’s Letter about the exciting future of Summer Stage

Greetings to our friends from Upper Darby Summer Stage and the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation! I am thrilled to report to you that the Foundation, Upper Darby School District and Upper Darby Township have announced a joint Memorandum of Understanding guaranteeing that Summer Stage will continue to operate in the District’s Performing Arts Center, will be operated independently by the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation and will be supported financially by Upper Darby Township. The Upper Darby School District will continue to make the Performing Arts Center our home.

I want to thank everyone who supported Summer Stage through the fall and winter months as we worked to negotiate this agreement. I appreciate your encouragement and the efforts you made to make this a reality. I am grateful to the leadership of the District and Township, especially Ed Brown, President of the School Board and Mayor Barbarann Keffer. I am particularly indebted to Terry Tracy, President of the Foundation, for his vision and leadership in helping Summer Stage make this transition to a nonprofit operation.

As of last August I have retired as the Executive and Artistic Director of the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center, a position I held with the Township and School District for more than 36 years. I am now serving as the Executive Director of the Upper Darby Arts and Education Foundation and will be supporting Summer Stage and also the popular Schoener MusicMan Academy camps created and directed by Jennifer Schoener.

I am thrilled that Upper Darby Summer Stage is open for business and we have already registered more than 400 young people! We have announced an exciting season including Disney’s Moana, Jr. and the regional premiere of Disney’s Descendants! We will celebrate Christmas in July with Elf, Jr. and highlight the diversity of Upper Darby with Disney Around the World. Our Mainstage show will be The Spongebob Musical, based on the popular cartoon and featuring music by Sara Bareilles, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend and David Bowie. 

And, most exciting of all, I am delighted to introduce our new Artistic Director for Upper Darby Summer Stage, Chris Luner! Chris is a life-long Summer Stager, participating in Children’s Theater, Mainstage and Shooting Stars, has worked for years as a staff member and has helped bring over 60 Summer Stage shows to the stage. Chris earned a Bachelor’s degree in Arts Administration from Wagner College in Staten Island, NY. He has been a Production Manager for Broadway, Off-Broadway and national tours of shows such as West Side Story, Pretty Woman and The Illusionists. Chris brings professional expertise and a deep love for Summer Stage to us and will take the program to a whole new level. Welcome, Chris Luner!

The leadership of the Foundation is committed to the creative vision we have cultivated for 46 years,and is exploring a facility to offer classes in dance, acting, music, pre-school music, dance and theater, senior citizen musical experiences and more throughout the year. The Foundation is committed to raising the funds necessary to sustain a vibrant program of community arts as well as supporting educational initiatives within the Upper Darby community. The Foundation is reaching out to the alumni of Summer Stage to create year round opportunities for social events and support for the program.

Please visit our website to update your contact information and account as we prepare to launch our 47th season! Watch for our emails and posts on Facebook, Instagram and in the newspapers. Visit us at udfoundation.org.         

Thank you for your support for my career at Summer Stage. I ask you to continue that same support for Chris Luner and to this wonderful, magical program we call Upper Darby Summer Stage.


Harry Dietzler

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