Years ago, Christopher Holownia was a 12-year-old who did not want to join a summer sports league or ship off to sleep-away camp. His mother felt he needed a summer activity, so she signed him up for the Weston Drama Workshop, an annual theater program for area teens and young adults.
Since then, Holownia has graduated from Yale and become a high school teacher, first in the Wellesley system and now at the independent Rivers School in Weston. But one thing about his life hasn’t changed — his devotion to the drama program he attended the summer after sixth grade.
Holownia isn’t alone. On Saturday, more than 100 past and present participants, along with members of the public who just want to see some good live entertainment, will gather for a gala celebration of the Weston Drama Workshop’s 50th anniversary, which will include a large-scale musical revue and champagne reception at the Regis College theater, where the ensemble has long held its performances.
According to board president Jody Pongratz, the program is committed to teaching people from sixth grade to age 23 about all aspects of the theater arts, from stage presence to lighting, sound, directing, and choreography.
The company runs four concurrent programs, divided by age group and interest level, and puts on about five productions per year. This season’s offerings are “42nd Street,” “Les Miserables,” “The Fabulous Fable Factory,” “The Illusion,” and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” This summer, for the first time, the troupe will take its shows on the road and perform at camps, day care facilities, and senior centers.
Inclusion is key to the program, said Pongratz. It is not uncommon to see young people with Down syndrome or physical disabilities on stage. Participants try out for specific parts but everyone is assured some level of participation.
Christopher Brindley first performed with the Weston Drama Workshop in 2004 as a Framingham High School sophomore; in the eight years since then, he has served as stage manager and producer for numerous productions. He is now producer of the company, and this summer he is directing “Les Miserables.”
In his second year, Brindley was joined by about 25 Framingham High friends; he estimates 20 of them will be back for this weekend’s reunion gala.
Like Brindley, Holownia has played ensemble parts, minor roles, and leads. He has also been director and music director for various productions, and now sits on the board of directors. Though at age 28 he is too old to be a regular participant, he will serve as music director for Saturday’s gala.
Holownia said a hallmark of the program remains the same for him now as it did when he was a 12-year-old. “It doesn’t matter here what your social standing is anywhere else,’’ he said. “There are no cliques. No one has a diva complex and there’s no sense of unhealthy competition. It’s just a really safe place.”
The Weston Drama Workshop’s 50th Anniversary Revue and Gala Champagne Reception begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Regis College Fine Arts Center, 235 Wellesley St. in Weston. Tickets are $30; go to www.westondramaworkshop.org or call 781-768-7070.
BRITISH INVASION: A popular New England-based Beatles tribute band, Beatlejuice will perform from 8 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday at NARA Park, 25 Ledge Rock Way in Acton.
Tickets for the general admission lawn seating are $10. For more information, go to www.acton-ma.gov/recreation.
LIKING SHAKESPEARE: Arlington Center for the Arts and Arlington Children’s Theatre present a family-friendly performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” at Menotomy Rocks Park on Jason Street in Arlington at 5 p.m. Sunday.
The event’s rain location is the Arlington Center for the Arts Theater, 41 Foster St. For more details, call 781-648-6220 or go to www.acarts.org.
HEALING WATER: The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden, in collaboration with Russell’s Garden Center, will host its first pond tour, with stops at homes in several area communities, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“Ripples” offers two self-guided tours, split between 10 private residences, that capture the unique healing properties of water cascading over stones.
One tour begins at the Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard, with stops in Concord, Carlisle, Chelmsford, and Lexington; the other begins at Russell’s Garden Center in Wayland, with stops in Weston, Wellesley, South Natick, and Brighton. The cost for each tour is $25, which admits one adult and one child.
Tickets and more information are available in advance at www.healinggarden.net, and on the days of the tour at the Thurston Healing Garden, 145 Bolton Road in Harvard, and Russell’s Garden Center, 397 Boston Post Road in Wayland. Call 978-456-3532, or e-mail email@example.com.
MUSEUM IN THE ATTIC: On Tuesday at 7 p.m., the Waltham Public Library, 735 Main St., presents “Mr. Ryan’s Legacy: Protecting Family and Community History,” a program in which archivist Melissa Mannon will discuss the rich historical resources that can be made available when families and cultural heritage institutions work together to preserve personal papers.
Sponsored by the Friends of the Waltham Public Library, the program is free, but seating is limited. For reservations, call 781-314-3425, ext. 2, or visit www.waltham.lib.ma.us.