Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) is a not for profit society that entertains families through popular musical theatre shows while providing a vibrant outlet and training ground to develop amateur performers and technicians both young and old. TUTS values an atmosphere of inclusion and mentorship in order to build strong character and to promote positive values.
In 1940, Theatre Under the Stars started when a group of local theatre people formed to produce professional quality musicals during the summer. Since then, TUTS has been a Lower Mainland tradition, delighting generations of locals and tourists alike under the stars in the pastoral outdoor setting of historic Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. TUTS provides performers and technical staff an opportunity to work in a real world theatrical venue alongside seasoned professionals.
Our productions are delivered by over 200 volunteers drawn from the community, requiring a broad variety of skills from board members to ushers to technical crew to cast and musicians.
Theatre Under the Stars acknowledges that our work takes place on the traditional and unceded lands of the Coast Salish First Nations, including the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
History of TUTS
Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS) produced operettas and musicals from 1940 to 1963 at the Malkin Bowl. The original TUTS was founded under the auspices of the Vancouver Park Board by board superintendent A.S. Wootten, conductor Basil Horsfall and actor E.V. Young, with advice from Gordon Hilker, to provide entertainment in Stanley Park in Malkin Bowl, which was a band shell for summer concerts. In the 1930s, attempts had been made by Young and Stanley Bligh to establish outdoor theatre at Brockton Oval, and these ventures set the precedent for TUTS. After TUTS’ first season (which opened 6 Aug 1940 and presented The Geisha, the plays A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It, and selections from grand opera), its program was devoted mainly to operettas (The Firefly, Rose Marie, The Red Mill, Naughty Marietta and others). In 1944, the Park Board established the BC Institute of Music and Drama under the direction of Glyndwr Jones to train young performers during the winter months. The institute, whose staff included Basil Horsfall (voice), Barbara Custance and Phyllis Schuldt (piano) and Nicholas Fiore (flute), closed in 1950. This was shortly after it was renamed the British Columbia Conservatory of Music. In 1949, when the Civic Theatre Society was established to take over control from the Park Board, TUTS began producing six- to eight-week summer seasons of musicals, such as Finian’s Rainbow, Brigadoon, Oklahoma!, Annie Get Your Gun, South Pacific, The King and I, Kismet, Guys and Dolls and Carousel.
In 1952, TUTS premiered Dolores Claman’s Timber! In 24 seasons, TUTS presented 104 productions, many, after 1944, also touring in British Columbia. Though established foreign artists often were engaged for leading roles, TUTS employed Canadians as well, such as Ernest Adams, Milla Andrew, Donald Bell, Harold Brown, Eleanor Collins, Don Francks, Don Garrard, Robert Goulet, Juliette, Don McManus, Karl Norman, Barney Potts and Betty Phillips. Conductors included Bligh, Horsfall, Lucio Agostini, and Beverly Fyfe. Plagued by bad weather and facing competition from the Vancouver International Festival, TUTS declared bankruptcy in 1963. In its 24 summers, the original TUTS had contributed greatly to the Vancouver theatre scene and assisted significantly in the development of many performers’ careers. Then, in 1969, a new theatre company, Theatre in the Park, began presenting two musicals a season. The company renamed itself to Theatre Under the Stars in 1980. In 1982, a fire destroyed part of Malkin Bowl, but the company was able to survive, rebuild the damaged outdoor theatre and continued presenting musical theatre through to 2006, when Theatre Under the Stars took a season off to regroup and returned in 2007, presenting Oklahoma! and Grease to sell-out crowds.
Since 2007, TUTS has experienced significant growth and change. New and improved on-site efforts to enhance the audience experience include: reserved seating, a bar featuring craft beer and wine made in BC, food provided by The Butler Did it Catering and a new ticket and gateway structure designed and built by a local Eagle Scout! A wet and soggy 2011 led TUTS to bring on initiatives such as the new Exchange Insurance and to provide patrons with plastic ponchos.
Finally, TUTS will continue to adapt and evolve to meet the needs and expectations of our loyal and expanding audience. For example, in 2012, TUTS has drastically reduced prices for kids under 18 years old in a continued effort to expose families to the wonders of musical threatre. TUTS has been, and will continue to be, a favourite summer tradition for locals and tourists alike.