Founder, Director, Musical Director, Scenic Design, Scenic Artist, Visionary
About Ross Summer Music Theatre and their founder Jerauld J. Reinhart
What does a 25 year old college graduate do when he gets out of the Air Force and obtains his first teaching job? If he loves theatre, has studied under famous conductors and directors at Indiana University's prestigious School of Music, he immediately starts to think musical productions. In 1954, attracted to "the Region" by its proximity to Chicago theatre, Jerauld Reinhart found the peaceful, friendly community of Merrillville, Indiana and began a long relationship with the school and community as high school choral director for 39 years and Ross Music Theatre director for 50 years. In 1964, wishing for a creative way to spend the summers, Reinhart asked the Optimist Club of Merrillville to sponsor a summer theatre for young people. The high school gym was the only stage big enough for Reinhart's spectacular spring and winter choral concerts so the theatre productions started on the gym stage and progressed to the gym floor. Meanwhile, Reinhart had been pushing for an artistic and well-equipped auditorium in which to present school and community events.
Backed by the school and community, he sought out the advice of his mentors at IU and the high school auditorium--now the Reinhart Auditorium--opened in 1972 with "Kiss Me, Kate." Productions got larger, casts and choruses grew, orchestras grew, as well as Reinhart's eight children, who trouped along every summer. The youngest appeared on stage at age 3. Since many young children wanted to be "on stage," Mrs. Margilee Reinhart
founded the Ross Summer Youth Theatre in the 1980s. After RSMT's 25th anniversary show--"Hello Dolly"--both theatres were temporarily sidetracked in 1989 by school renovation and Jerry Reinhart's summer heart by-pass surgery. Not missing a day of school, Reinhart bounced back and as soon as renovations were complete in the auditorium, the theatre was back in business. The children's theatre rejoined its parent organization and productions began again in 1994 with "Oliver." Reinhart's son Michael and his wife Melinda began M&M Productions in 1992 and now has combined with RMT for the successful productions of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Jesus Christ Superstar," "The Wizard of Oz," "Scrooge," "Cotton Patch Gospel," "The Music Man, Beauty and the Beast, Big, Oliver, and Ragtime”, Music Man, Jesus Christ Superstar, Phantom of the Opera, Les Mise´tables. The merger, which enabled
Ross Music Theatre to do 2-3 shows a year. In 2011 Jerry’s health caused him to to give up the day to day business of running RSMT but he continued to conduct the orchestra, direct the chorus, and was there to consult until his passing in 2014. The directing of the show has been turned over to his son Mike and his wife Melinda and the RSMT lives on continuing it’s goal that even though RSMT is an independent, non-profit, non-subsidized venture supported solely by ticket sales it gives the NWI community professional quality productions at a community theatre price. One of the lowest prices yet the most extravagant shows in the area.
Jerry Reinhart was very proud of his on stage family as well as his own family--some of whom pursued theatre activities. Many alumni are returning with their children, even their grandchildren, to our stage.
Fifty years later, the 2013 RSMT show "Les Misérables" celebrated the Theatre’s 50th anniversary. Where Jerry conducted his last orchestra.Although he had retired from the classroom, Jerauld was still auditorium director and has directed and produced more than one hundred professional quality shows at the high school and community theatre level. At 86 years old he has spent over half of his life producing musicals in Merrillville and has provided musical leadership to thousands of people and entertainment to over 180,000 in North West Indiana. Jerauld Reinhart was truly the "Musical Man" of NW Indiana. His dream continues with this years JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT.