Otterbein Summer Theatre opens its 50th anniversary season this weekend with Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs." It's the famed playwright's "best, warmest and most autobiographical" work, department chair John Stefano said, and one of 12 of Simon's works Otterbein Summer Theatre has staged in the last 50 years.

Otterbein Summer Theatre opens its 50th anniversary season this weekend with Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memoirs." It's the famed playwright's "best, warmest and most autobiographical" work, department chair John Stefano said, and one of 12 of Simon's works Otterbein Summer Theatre has staged in the last 50 years.

The summer offerings are an important piece of the professional theater training program at the Westerville university, whose program is well respected throughout the country. "It's wonderful training where our students are working in a professional environment, able to devote their full time to the production," Stefano said.

In 1967, Otterbein's summer season was among the few arts offerings in Central Ohio in the summer, Stefano said. "Otterbein theater has had a tremendous impact on our community and is a valued cultural resource," he said.

The 50th season also includes a world premiere of a work by 2014 Otterbein graduate Sean Murphy, a comedy titled "Invention of Theater." Rodgers and Hammerstein's "A Grand Night for Singing" closes the season.