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Non-Profit Spotlight

Coeur d'Alene Summer Theater

At the Kroc Center, the lights darken, signaling the beginning of the show. In the room it feels like everyone takes a collective deep breath: the music, the characters, the story are all coming to take us away. When the lights come up for the opening scene, it's like the first jolt of motion on a roller coaster: here we go. The waiting is over for the audience, the cast, and the crew. It's time to connect.

From that moment forward, Million Dollar Quartet doesn't disappoint. Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins come alive in the performances of Jeff Rowden, Henry McNulty, Michael Feldman, and Matt McClure. Accomplished musicians in their own right, they perform the music live on stage as they celebrate the early days of rock and roll, and one legendary jam session at Sun Records in the 1950s.

The end of the summer is nearing, but Kerri Thoreson, Executive Director of Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre, is still hard at work with her team, bringing excellence to the stage in North Idaho. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017, the Theatre is the oldest performing arts organization in the state of Idaho.

With the sheer amount of work that goes into a high quality musical behind the scenes (and long before the scenes are even ready), Thoreson points to that moment of connection when the lights finally come up. “The opening-night audience reaction to the culmination of months of planning, preparation and rehearsals is not only exciting but gratifying,” Thoreson says.

Those moments have been excellent this summer. With three 2017 crowd-pleasing main stage productions (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and South Pacific in addition to Million Dollar Quartet), it has been an unforgettable season of musical theater in the panhandle.

Thoreson is quick to point out that none of this happens by accident.

“Our Artistic Director Jadd Davis is incredible,” she says. “He's not only a visionary and a talented actor, singer, and director, but he oversees every aspect of production. He assembles a crew of professionals in design, sound, lighting, staging and costuming to present really exceptional musical theatre.”

On the business side, there are some heroes as well — the people behind the scenes and behind a desk every day, who go above and beyond for the sake of the show.

“Our office staff may be small in numbers but Alyssa Hersey, Kay Poland and Annette Nolting do a great job and are all passionate about the theatre,” Thoreson adds, along with glowing reviews for their entire supporting community: from the nonprofit board to the season ticket holders who allow the organization to thrive. “It takes a village!”

In their 50th year, the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre was also in search of a bank that could provide not only banking services but an ongoing relationship that meets their unique needs. When they reached out to INB, banker Laszlo Suto sat down with them to help create a program that is achieving both day-to-day and long-term goals for Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre. “In addition to this service relationship, we were excited to have INB come on board as a sponsor,” Thoreson says.

Because of the community support, Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre is also Coeur d'Alene Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring Theatre. While the summer main stage musicals are the pinnacle, throughout the year CST performs concerts, staged theatrical readings, holds theatre camps for young actors, and is in the second year of the "On the Road" educational series which takes an original play relating to North Idaho history to schools throughout the panhandle.

For Thoreson and the supportive people who surround the Theatre, it's all part of the mission: connecting deeply with audiences and with the community as a whole.