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Phyllis Flanders Dorset Summerhouse Theatre Collection

Identifier: MSS-766-SC

Scope and Content

The collection contains playbills, newspaper clippings and magazine articles on the Summerhouse Theatre from 1947-1956. Also included are photographs of cast, crew, and theatre productions. More recent material dating from 1989-1995 includes notes on the Theatre's history, anecdotes, and a short biography as well as an obituary for Karl Westerman


  • 1947-1995
  • Majority of material found within 1947-1954, 1989-1995

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution..

Background Information

The Summerhouse Theatre was Albuquerque's first sustained summer stock company. The company was the creation of Karl Westerman who opened the first production July 17, 1947 in the ballroom of the Franciscan Hotel. Until the Sumerhouse Theatre opened, Albuquerque theater enthusiasts relied on amateur, community plays and the UNM Drama Dept. for their theater entertainment. From 1949-1951 the Theatre "in the round" thrived and grew in popularity in spite of not having a permanent home. In 1951, Westerman was successful in extending the theater to include productions in Santa Fe and later Taos. From 1951-1956 the Summerhouse Theatre was permanently housed in the San Felipe Hotel in Albquerque's Old Town. In 1956, fire destroyed the San Felipe Hotel and the company moved to a building in the University area to perform. The Summerhouse Theatre staged many popular plays of the time and often had guest directors and actors such as Robert Vaughn, Sam Peckinpah, and Kim Hunter. Robert Mondragon acted in and performed musical numbers in the early years of the troupe. In 1957, a winter counter-part was created and the Albuquerque Light Opera was born. Westerman chose to put his energy into the Albuquerque Light Opera and ended the Summerhouse Theatre in 1959.

Phyllis Dorset became interested in the Summerhouse Theatre in 1947 when she ushered at the theatre's first performances. From 1951-1956 she was the publicity director for the Summerhouse. After leaving New Mexico, she followed the activities of the theatre and continued a correspondence with Karl Westerman. From 1989-1995, Dorset began collecting Summerhouse memorabilia and recording information pertaining to the theatre so that this little piece of Albuquerque history would not be forgotten.


1 Folder


This is a small collection of materials pertaining to the Summerhouse Theatre which was the first summer stock production company in Albuquerque.

Related Archival Material

University of Albuquerque Theatre Department Records. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. New Mexico Repertory Theatre Records. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico. Compañia de Teatro de Alburquerque Records. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico.
Finding Aid of the Phyllis Flanders Dorset Summerhouse Theatre Collection, 1947-1995
Processed by irenfro
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131