Theater Under the Stars

Tim MantilEvents

Theater Under the Stars

by: Joe Basque


Your opportunity to enjoy local theater under the stars continues this July at the SumTer Amphitheater, as the Papillion-LaVista Community Theatre (PLVCT) presents Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.”

PLVCT has been producing summer musicals at SumTer for a dozen years now. If you have not attended a production, you are truly missing out. The venue is lovely, the productions are wonderful and the concessions are great.

This summer’s production of “Into the Woods” pairs Suzanne Withem as director and Liz Stinman as music director. The two first worked together in these roles for “Little Women” at the Chanticleer Community Theater, and they connected immediately. “We’re two peas in a pod,” says Stinman. “We really complete each other creatively.” Withem agrees. “Liz and I work well together because of our great respect for each other as artists. Our skill sets complement each other really well. Her observations about the musical underscoring or shape of a song helps me wrap my head around the staging and inspires creativity in our interpretation.”

The production has been more of a collaborative effort than originally anticipated. Stinman became pregnant last fall, and her due date fell less than a month before the production. Nevertheless, she persisted, not wanting to give up on music directing the show. “Suzanne has been a great collaborator, understanding that working mothers shouldn’t be forced to choose between working and being a mother.” At thirty-nine months, her assistant music director, Shelby VanNordstrand and rehearsal pianist Boston Reid stepped in to cover rehearsals. Stinman gave birth to her first child, Garrett, on June 15. On June 23 she returned to rehearsal, conducting while wearing Garrett in a Boba wrap. Her husband Michael maintains a fully stocked nursery on site for every rehearsal. “My colleagues tell me ‘We can’t believe you’re here.’ They don’t know whether to applaud me or tell me I’m crazy,” laughs Stinman. Withem wouldn’t have it any other way. “I couldn’t imagine tackling this glorious beast of a musical without her, so I’m so incredibly grateful that she, Garrett, and Michael are along for the ride.”

“Into the Woods” intertwines the stories of multiple classic fairy tales, following them as each has their wishes granted, only to discover that their “happily ever afters” are not what they anticipated. The story resonates with Stinman in ways she could not have imagined when she first agreed to music direct it. “It hits you in a different place in your heart when you have kids of your own.” Some fairy tales really do finish with a happily ever after.

Papillion-LaVista Community Theatre presents “Into the Woods” at SumTer Amphitheater July 12-14 and July 18-20. All shows start at 8:00 pm, and the gates open at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $18.00 for the VIP section, $14.00 for reserved seats, and $10.00 for general admission on the amphitheater’s green space. Blankets and lawn chairs are welcome for general admission seating. Outside food and drink is not permitted, but a menu of their terrific concessions is available on the website. More information about the production is available at as well as the SumTer web site: Tickets are available online at, by phone at 402-597-2041, or at The Papillion Recreation Office, 145 West Second Street in Papillion between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm. Questions? Contact them at

SumTer Amphitheater is located at 11691 S 108th Street in Papillion. The Amphitheater is located just south of Papillion-LaVista South High School, off of Highway 370 and 108th Street. Parking is available at SumTur Amphitheater, but it can fill up. In the event that SumTur’s lot is full, overflow parking is available at Papillion-La Vista South High School, and a paved trail along 108th Street connects the lots to the amphitheater.