Tina Fey headlines fundraiser for summer stage where she got her start

 Tina Fey (right) and friends, circa 1987-88 outside the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center (Image courtesy the Upper Darby Summer Stage)

Tina Fey (right) and friends, circa 1987-88 outside the Upper Darby Performing Arts Center (Image courtesy the Upper Darby Summer Stage)

The Upper Darby Performing Arts Center will host a 10th anniversary screening of “Mean Girls,” the breakout comedy by Tina Fey, an alumna of the UDPAC’s Summer Stage youth theater program.

Fey herself will be in at the screening, to be followed by an onstage interview with Damien Holbrook, a senior writer with TV Guide and a fellow Summer Stage alumnus.

“Just to see the movie without commercials will be so nice for me,” said Fey, who wrote the film and appeared in it as math teacher Ms. Norbury. The film is loosely based on her own high school career.

“I myself had a real mean streak that I had to work out as I got older,” said Fey.

The former senior writer of “Saturday Night Live” and creator of “30 Rock” credits the Upper Darby Summer Stage as a big part of that growing up. Created in 1976 by Harry Dietzler, it has become a model for youth theater programs around the country.

Now that the youth theater program is about to go into its 40th season, it needs a few hundred thousand dollars in upgrades.

“It’s such a huge theater — 1000-seat space that serves the school and the community,” said Fey. “It always had a terrible sound system.”

Fey started at the Summer Stage when she was about 15 years old, working 8 to 10 hours a day as cast and crew of weekly productions. When she left to go to study theater at the University of Virginia, she returned to Upper Darby in the summer to direct children’s theater.

“Hundreds of hours logged in that place — coming back from the end of the summer break going back to school being completely pale from being inside the whole summer,” said Fey, then adding, very Ms. Norbury-like: “which we now know was smart and safe to not go out into the sun.”

Fey admits she was an awkward teenager, and she made many of her life-long friends at the Summer Stage.

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