When Karen Bonelli Sanquist moved to the Lincoln City area over two years ago, she saw there was something missing for her kids: a youth theatre program.
This past summer, Bonelli Sanquist launched the Lincoln City Playhouse Youth Theatre Company for kids in the area.
“We saw that there were only a couple of theatre options for kids; the high school and Missoula,” Bonelli Sanquist said. “We make sure that we don’t compete with either of them and we don’t discourage anyone from doing other plays. We just wanted something outside of sports for the kids here.”
Bonelli Sanquist has a background in theatre, working with a group in Portland, putting together costumes for Roosevelt High School and serving on the Board of Directors for the Rose Festival in Portland. She began teaching classes in June to kids ages 8 to 18 and eventually worked up to a performance of Seussical the Musical Jr. at The Beach Club and Event Center this past October.
“Seeing how excited the kids are to be apart of this has been awesome to see,” Bonelli Sanquist said. “The kids are amazing and they’ve really come together as a family. What I’ve always loved about theatre is that it brings people together.”
But it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Lincoln City Playhouse. With her husband putting together the sets and Bonelli Sanquist having to rely on volunteer help, she said that finding sponsors has been their main challenge.
“I know it’s a new thing and people want to see if we’ll stick around, but we’re here to stay,” Bonelli Sanquist said. “I love working with the kids.”
A challenge for any new theatre group is building audience attendance. But for the LC Playhouse, they exceeded their goal for their first three shows in October.
“We had three shows and had 200 people total, which was amazing for us,” Bonelli Sanquist said. “We would’ve been happy to get just 20 people and it isn’t just the locals coming, we had people for Newport, out of town vacationing… that’s great to see.”
Luckily, the LC Playhouse has not been short on performers. When they began in the summer, they had 11 kids, which later grew to 21 by the first performance of Seussical. Now they are sitting at 22 kids and growing.
“We have kids from Otis to Depoe Bay,” Bonelli Sanquist said. “As long as they get here for rehearsals, I’m open to bringing in anyone.”
Bonelli Sanquist said there’s also a role for anyone looking to audition and they do their best to find the right fit for each person looking to get involved.
“There’s something in the theatre for each child,” she said. “Whether they are an actor, director, crew member… There’s always an aspect for them to help out.”
The group meets Tuesday’s and Friday’s each week at New Life Foursquare Church and they are currently hard at work preparing for their next performance: A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Based on the timeless holiday classic, the LC Playhouse will perform A Charlie Brown Christmas a total of seven times in December. Showtimes are as followed:
Dec. 6 – 7 p.m.
Dec. 7 – 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Dec. 13 – 7 p.m.
Dec. 14 – 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Dec. 15 – 2 p.m.
Each performance will be held at the Lincoln City Cultural Center (LCCC) at 540 NE Hwy 101 in Lincoln City. Tickets are available at LCCC or on their website.
After the holidays, LC Playhouse will be right back to work preparing for a busy 2020.
“We plan to do five plays next year,” Bonelli Sanquist said. “The kids love Dr. Suess, so we’ll be doing that one again and the next auditions will be for Honk Jr., a story about the ugly duckling, on January 5.”
In the future, LC Playhouse will be looking to expand by adding a junior troop for ages 4 to 8 as well as an adult improv group.
For more information on the LC Playhouse, visit their Facebook page.