Founder of West Seattle’s Stage Struck youth-theater program soon to take ‘Final Bow’

(WSB photos)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The end of the summer will be the end of an era for youth theater in West Seattle.

After one last round of summer theater camps, Laura Drake is retiring, and turning over her Stage Struck program to a new owner (who’s expected to give it a new name).

She’s hoping to catch up with former Stage Struck families for a “final bow” party at 8 pm September 1st, after the last summer-show performance.

It’s been a monumental run. She’s produced 180 shows between 2001 and 2023, both after-school and summer-camp productions. She started Stage Struck in the basement of Admiral Church, and currently works in the fellowship hall at Fauntleroy Church, where the walls are currently decorated with photo montages from all those shows over all those years.

Drake – who has an extensive performing background – says she launched Stage Struck, with partners, as a “49-year-old single mom” hoping to bring in some extra income; she became interested in classroom teaching, too, and went back to school for a certificate. She subsequently taught at both Highland Park Elementary and Arbor Heights Elementary until retiring from Seattle Public Schools five years ago. But even while teaching, “summers were always full” with eight or nine 2-week Stage Struck camps.

Fauntleroy Church has been the ideal home for the program, she says, not just because of the stage – to which lighting and other features have been added over the years – but because of other rooms in the building where instruction and practice can go on. Drake explains that Stage Struck production have rotating casts, so each production has multiple students per role. Another unique facet of her program has been learning and exploration adjunct to the production – performing “The Lion King” was an opportunity to explore African music and dance, for example. And the productions have always featured live musicians. This year, they’ve been doing two longtime favorites – “Annie” and “Grease” – and two “Best Of” shows.

Over the years, Drake says, she’s worked with so many students that “I run into ‘Stage Struck’ kids everywhere!” Many of the teachers who’ve worked in the program “came up as alums, she adds. The new owner, a member of her staff, plans to rebrand it, likely as Lights Up! But in the meantime, for Drake, it’ll be curtain down at summer’s end: “It’s been great.”

P.S. If you’re a Stage Struck alum interested in the “Final Bow” party on September 1st, or reconnecting before then, you can reach Drake via

18 Replies to "Founder of West Seattle's Stage Struck youth-theater program soon to take 'Final Bow'"

  • KayK August 21, 2023 (7:39 am)

    Laura you have been such a gem for our community- enjoy your next horizons!

  • DBurns August 21, 2023 (8:58 am)

    Congratulations Laura! What a true gift you have been to this community and beyond. You taught generations of kids the importance and beauty of theatre art. You gave so many opportunities for young people to shine and learn, and we are forever grateful to have been part of your program and to stay connected as our kids have grown. Stage Struck is a part of our family and holds very special memories for us all. “God Bless the Child” ;) I cry. Thank you doesn’t cover it, but you know we are huge fans. xo

    • Laura Drake August 24, 2023 (1:12 pm)

      Thank you so much for those kind, appreciative words, Donna. Those decade shows were very meaningful and all those years of memories will be with me forever!

  • Janet F August 21, 2023 (11:19 am)

    It was great to work with you at Arbor Heights. You had many great activities and opportunities for the students during class and after school etc. Enjoy you retirement and hope to see you around .

    • Laura Drake August 24, 2023 (1:13 pm)

      Dear Janet, thank you so much for those appreciative words!much love ❤️ 

  • Jayne August 21, 2023 (5:01 pm)

    Laura … you are by far the best employer I’ve ever had. Thanks for giving all  of us who worked for you a decent wage! My admiration for your dedication to the StageStruck campers and to the art of theater is deep and sparkly. It’s a mighty torch that you are passing and I am confident it will shine bright for years to come.

    • Laura Drake August 25, 2023 (7:59 am)

      Jayne…..Thank you so much!  I could not have carried on as long as I did without you there supporting and helping me and teaching with such dedication, energy, and love.

  • Justme August 21, 2023 (6:04 pm)

    My son still remembers his Swan Lake performance and so do I. Must have been way back in 2007 or so. Farewell and thank you for your contributions to the arts.

  • Allie August 21, 2023 (9:47 pm)

    Stage Struck has been such a gift this summer for my two kiddos. We feel so lucky to have found it. Thank you so much Laura for all of your hard work and dedication. You have instilled beautiful memories and creativity in the minds of so many kids. 

    • Laura Drake August 25, 2023 (8:00 am)

      Thank you very kindly Allie!

  • Brian R August 22, 2023 (8:29 am)

    A little more than 20 years ago, Laura asked for my help researching historic theatres across the Seattle area. Laura’s passion for theatre and interest in documenting the oral histories of vaudeville and musical theatres drove an interest that has become the core of my career and starting my own business as an historic preservation architect. Laura – you’ve been an inspiration to so many people in so many ways over so many years that it’s difficult if not impossible to truly capture the breadth and depth of your influence on our community!  Thank you so much for all you’ve done!  I wish you all the best in the next stage of your life (no pun intended!). 

    • Laura Drake August 25, 2023 (8:02 am)

      Dear Brian,Thank you so very much for those kind and appreciative words!Now when can we get together and talk because I will put the book together one way or another!  Much love to you and your family

  • Joanne Klein August 22, 2023 (9:17 pm)

    Hey Laura, You kept StageStruck going through thick and thin, trial and tribulation and changed so many people’s lives…I had a great experience working with you and the kids and all the great shows and am happy you were able to pass it along …long  live Theatre Camp…

    • Laura Drake August 25, 2023 (8:03 am)

      Dear JoJoThank you for your creative work with the kids and your the fab way you put costumes together!  Much love!

  • Tricia Hahler August 23, 2023 (11:12 am)

    Laura!  Love all you gave to the young kids of West Seattle which for us were so fun and provided growth and a lasting impact.  Thank you.  Tricia

    • Laura Drake August 24, 2023 (1:09 pm)

      Thank you Tricia! It’s been a while! Appreciate your kind words

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