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Photo by Dante Fontana
Ten years ago when Lanny and Tish Langston, together with Linda and Peter Wolfe, decided to start a community theater in Placerville, they had plenty of passion but no guarantees it was going to work.
“Theater is a fickle thing, especially in tough economic times,” Langston says. “But when we sold out all of the shows for our first production – before we even opened our doors. We knew we were on the right track.” There have been some lean years since that grand beginning to be sure, but thanks to the community’s ongoing support, the Imagination Theater continues to bring high-end live theater to Placerville, while providing opportunities for local kids to get involved in all aspects of theater production. “We want to help develop self-esteem in young people by getting them on stage and being a part of a production crew,” Langston says. “That kind of experience, coupled with exposure to the arts, broadens their horizons and can help lead to a richer, fuller, and more rounded life in later years.”
Despite the focus on children, however, it’s far more than a “children’s” theater. All the productions are multi-generational; it’s not uncommon to have cast members ranging in age from under 10 to over 60. In addition, they’re all volunteers, and considering the commitment they make, it’s clear they all have a love for the theater. Between auditions, rehearsals, and upwards of 20 performances during a show’s run, these volunteers (and their parents) give about four months to each production. Many of them come back over and over again.
Without the support of the broader community, however, the theater’s continuing success simply wouldn’t be possible. In addition to ticket sales, several local businesses and other organizations provide the financial support necessary to keep the doors open. Langston is certainly grateful for that, but they’re quick to point out the support for the theater is ultimately the support of a healthy community. “Whether it’s through church, sports, volunteering, or community theater, a healthy community is one that provides numerous opportunities for its citizens – and particularly its young people – to get involved and participate in the things that create a greater quality of life for everyone,” Langston says.
A local theater also makes it possible for everyone to see and enjoy top-quality live entertainment without having to travel all the way to Sacramento or San Francisco. “I’d venture to say if you go to most communities in California you will find a community theater,” Langston says. “It may not be big, but it’s a venue for bringing the arts to the community, and that’s exactly why we started the theater ten years ago.”
In February, Imagination Theater presents Charlotte’s Web, followed by Quilters in March. Auditions for the comedy Father of the Bride will be held on April 9-10, and the show will run in September, 2011.
For more information, call 530-642-0404 or visit imagination-theater.org.