Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) is the preeminent nonprofit presenter of Broadway theatre in North Texas. DSM produces, presents and promotes excellence in live musical theatre with year-round performances for diverse audiences of all ages, impacting the lives of children and families through community outreach and education and enriching the cultural landscape of Dallas/Fort Worth, North Texas and the Southwest Region.
Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) began in 1941 as Opera Under the Stars in the Band Shell at Fair Park. Without the benefit of air-conditioning in the 40’s, performing outdoors was a better alternative than having to withstand the triple digit summer heat at an indoor facility in Dallas. The most important thing was for the audience to experience the magic of live theater. Opening night came on June 12, 1941, with a production of Sigmund Romberg’s Blossom Time, an operetta based on the life of Franz Schubert.
The first season was co-produced by a group of local Dallas businessmen and The Schubert Organization in New York City, producers of touring theatrical productions. Ten shows, running a week each, were planned for the first season but the season was so successful that two additional shows were added. Ticket prices ranged from 30¢ to $1.10, and the season ended with a profit, despite the fact that a third of the performances were rained out. The onset of World War II prompted the cancellation of the season in 1942, but the summer theatre resumed operations in 1943 when a group of local businessmen established a non-profit organization to produce the season, under the name Starlight Operettas. A series of ten shows was presented that year, as well as in 1944.
The State Fair Association decided the Starlight Operettas needed a full-time executive director. In 1944 it tapped legendary show business figure Charles R. Meeker to become the organization’s first Managing Director. After working with The Schubert Organization in 1941, Meeker providentially served as mentor to two young men – Tom Hughes and Michael Jenkins in the 1940’s and 1950’s who were to succeed him in later years continuing to bring quality entertainment to local audiences, decade after decade.