Entertainment, Pleasant Hill Theatre

Pleasant Hill Theatre: Inspiring adolescent expression

A production of ”Robin Hood” at the Pleasant Hill Community Theatre. General Manager Michael Stearn said that the theatre provides an opportunity for children who aren’t interested in sports to have an outlet to express themselves. Photo provided

PLEASANT HILL – As art and culture programs are being cut and dwindling from public schools, Pleasant Hill Community Theatre on Zephyr Way has become the home for adolescents to explore their creativity.
”For people who participate, the feedback from kids and parents is that they’re just grateful for this opportunity,” General Manager Michael Stearns said. ”It just brings a rich, cultural experience.”
Stearns first got involved with the theatre when his children were young and performing. After volunteering on productions, he was asked to be on the board, but after his children had graduated he stepped back for several years until he started to miss the theatre.
”It’s such a great atmosphere,” he said. ”It’s just a lot of fun.”
The Pleasant Hill Community Theatre has been around since 1990, but was incorporated in 2000. It is a nonprofit theatre that is owned by Emerald Christian Academy across the street and run by a five-member board. The theatre seats about 100 guests and Stearns said that the building has grown in pieces.
Past productions have included ”Peter Pan,” ”Oklahoma!,” ”Robin Hood” and ”The Wizard of Oz.” The theatre puts on three productions each year, including fall and spring musicals and a workshop for kids in grades K-6. In the past, they have also had adult performances or Christmas specials, along with smaller musical performances.
”Our mission is to support and complement what schools are doing for kids,” he said. ”We do some different works that aren’t musicals. There are some students we want to reach out to that might not want to sing, but there’s so many ways to express themselves.”
He added that one of the new workshops they are trying is a scene-writing and performance workshop for high-schoolers, which will allow them more opportunities to be creative. Beyond the workshop, the theatre will also have a children’s production of ”Pinocchio” in January and ”Mary Poppins” in the spring.
The theatre has also seen upgrades to the building and equipment recently, and Stearns said that will continue into the future. They have received a grant from the Chambers Family Foundation to upgrade their light and sound, which Stearns said has improved productions ”tremendously.”
The theatre has also added a covered overhang at the entrance of the theatre, and in the spring will coordinate with an art teacher to have children paint a mural on the side of the building.
Stearns said the biggest challenge facing the theatre is continuity, and keeping volunteers involved and engaged because there are only so many shows a year. He also wants to promote the theatre and bring awareness of it to other rural communities beyond Pleasant Hill. With the theatre running as a nonprofit, Stearns said its mission is to provide a public service and serve the community.
He added that it’s special for Pleasant Hill to have such a vibrant theatre and he wants to welcome people to volunteer or check out the shows. For him, the hard work is worth it to see the smiles on the children’s faces at curtain call.
”Kids aren’t always going to be drawn to sports,” Stearns said, ”and it’s such a great opportunity for them to learn about themselves and express themselves, and to see that is a great feeling.”
The theatre is located at 35575-1/2 Zephyr Way. For more information on the theatre or how to get involved, email Stearns at [email protected]