Rally for The Rep: Why The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is Vital to Webster University 

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The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is projected to be in a 2.5 million-dollar deficit after this season. To combat this financial struggle, the theater crafted a three-part plan, called “Rally for The Rep,” to return the theater to its former glory.

The Rep runs deep within the veins of Webster University. The Loretto-Hilton Center for the Performing Arts, which houses The Rep, was built in 1966. It was the first facility in the United States designed for both a professional acting company and an undergraduate theater arts department.

Students in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts use The Rep as a way to create connections with producers, directors and fellow performers.

“The Rep was really a safe space for me. It was a space where I could show up, go through things and overcome them. It allowed me to find myself, and the power that I have on stage as a performer,” Bryant said.

During DeAnté Bryant’s time at Webster University, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (The Rep) gave him a sanctuary to grieve the loss of two brothers. 

“The thought that, you know, there’s this place, this place that I love so much, could die, It could stop existing, it doesn’t seem real,” Bryant said.

Bryant recently graduated from Webster with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater. He performed at the Rep in 2021 and 2022, and is now performing at The Rep in their latest show, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Webster University president Julian Schuster is a board member for The Rep. The theater gains help from students for shows and uses them as performers. In the process, students gain practical experience unachievable from a classroom.  

“Webster is a part of The Rep’s identity, and The Rep is a part of our identity as well,” Schuster said.

Becks Redman is the associate artistic director for the theater. She casts the shows and ensures they run smoothly, meeting the highest standard. She also teaches auditioning classes for senior Conservatory and acting students at Webster, which teach students how to audition in a professional setting.

According to Redman, phase one of Rally for The Rep ends on Dec. 31. This phase aims to raise $2.5 million to ensure the theater can finish its season. The theater will host celebrities like John Goodman and Ozzie Smith and encourage donations from patrons. 

In the second stage, the theater will determine what technology and facility upgrades it needs to continue to operate. The final stage aims to put money into the endowment, solidifying The Rep’s future.

The financial struggles seen by The Rep are not specific to their institution. Theaters across the nation are feeling the effects of the pandemic and the changing tide of the industry. 

“The subscription model that the theater was built on is not a model that younger generations subscribe to,” Redman said. “It’s been really hard to cultivate new generations to come to the theater at the same rate that our parents and grandparents did.” 

But not all hope is lost. According to Redman, the best thing people can do for the theater is to simply attend and spread the word.

“We’d love for people to come and spend time with us,” Redman said. “We’d love to have people here and support the shows. It’s a really famous theater, you know, that’s right here on campus. And so I want people to know it. I want people to enjoy it and experience it.”

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Gabrielle Lindemann
Staff Writer | + posts