After showcasing hundreds of kids for 11 years, children’s theatre looking for permanent home

In this 2020 file photo, Oompa Loompas perform a song in CCCMT's mini-musical performance of "Willy Wonka," Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 21, 2020 | Photo by Paul Dail, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Having continuously outgrown spaces during the last decade, the Cedar City Children’s Musical Theatre is in need of a permanent location.

Currently located in the Cedar City’s old hospital building on Altamira Ave, CCCMT has had to change locations three times since 2019 due to space or funding restrictions. Founders and volunteers for the theater told Cedar City News that the location is currently for sale, and they would like to buy it.

“Our building sponsor team is pushing out to secure a building location,” Technical Producer Bruce Anderson said. “We would like to raise $500,000, which is 500 people donating $1,000, and secure this location. It’s a great location. We feel like we could do something great, but we want to secure this location so that we can continue to move forward because we are on a month-to-month (lease) right now. We can’t plan for our future.”

Publicity Director Rebekah Karpel said finding a space has been difficult.

“We’ve looked around. Either spaces aren’t big enough, or they don’t want to rent to children,” she said. “Or they are just more expensive than we can afford without changing the way we charge children and admission. … We want it to be a service to the community. So, if we can’t find a permanent space where we could have either cheap rent or we could own it, we can’t continue with our mission.”

President Jewly Krause said the theater’s mission is to provide musical theater experience to children, regardless of their ability or financial situations, and changing the rates would go against that purpose.

The Cedar City Children’s Musical Theatre is currently located at the Old Hospital, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 23, 2020 | Photo by Kelsey Cooke, St. George News / Cedar City News

“It’s just disheartening,” Krause said. “We’re trying to help these kids and we don’t have a place to do it.”

Volunteers are in the process of collecting donations to try and secure the theater’s current location.

“Right now we have an account set up at Mountain America under donations, and that is strictly for our building fund,” Production Manager Wendy Anderson said. “So it won’t go into anything else, and people can donate anything they want into that, and every donation that we get right now is going to straight into that. We’re putting off our sponsors for our big show until we have a secure location.”

The theater is having difficulty opening future Mini Musical Theatre sessions to registration and planning for the summer show, as the current location is for sale and the theater could be given 60 days notice to vacate any time.

After a meeting with parents last week, approximately $10,000 has been raised so far.

“I think that the parents and the people that have been involved see how much it’s benefited their family,” Bruce Anderson said. “We promote the kids, and I think it gets them off the streets, it gets them doing something, it gets them off their cell phones.”

Wendy Anderson also said seeing the benefits of the theater has motivated parents to donate.

“The families are the ones that have donated because they see the benefits of it, and they have witnessed the growth of their children, the growth of other children,” she said.

CCCMT has been providing musical theater opportunities to children in the community since 2009. Its first production, Peter Pan, consisted of 20 children who were mostly family members of the theater’s founders. An average of approximately 200 children have participated in each summer performance since 2014.

“Our base was different on purpose,” Krause said. “We wanted them to have the opportunity to do it whether they’d done it before or not. So we continued to see massive growth.”

Karpel added that costumes and parts are created for each participant so they all have a unique identity within the production.

“The choreographers are also amazing at making sure each child, no matter how tall or short, gets to have their own moment where they get to be in the spotlight for at least 30 seconds,” she said.

Krause said CCCMT helps kids build confidence, as well as ability, and involves entire families.

“It’s so nice to see them all coming together and supporting their kids,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see how excited the parents get. I love seeing the support that they give for their children. I think the dynamic it has for them is it involves everybody. The kids are in the show, but the mom comes and helps paint props. And we definitely utilize (parents) so that brings them closer, they have investment in it. It’s more meaningful when you work on it yourself.”

She added that the theater is managed entirely by volunteers.

“We’re all volunteers,” Krause said. “We all have regular jobs – this is for the love of the theater, the love of the kids. And we want to continue to do it.”

Councilman Scott Phillips attended a tour of the theater’s current facility and told Cedar City News he believes arts programs are important for the community.

“The thing that I like about these kinds of programs is that these young people, not necessarily will be professional actors or actresses, but they will be lifelong appreciators and supporters of the arts,” Phillips said. “Whether that’s musical events, art galleries, live theater performances. And we need those people, and they’ll take their children to those kinds of performances. That’s the importance of it.”

Krause said the current space fits the theater’s needs, with multiple large rooms, bathrooms and a kitchen, but “we’re at the point where we can’t keep moving.”

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