Fort Collins Children’s Theatre History
In the 1950s a group of civic-minded women gathered together with the idea that children should have the opportunity to be exposed to live theatre. Thus, the Fort Collins Children’s Theatre (FCCT), a non-profit volunteer organization began. The women formed a board of directors and began conducting live theatrical productions in Fort Collins for a diverse audience of children and those young-at-heart. In 1978 FCCT had the advantage of being the first local theatre group to stage a show on the Main Stage of the Lincoln Center with their production of Sleeping Beauty. Through the years of successful productions and children’s programs, FCCT has included a mixed group of people that have all shared a commitment to the idea that live theatre is an enriching and valuable experience for children of all ages.
The Fort Collins Children’s Theatre has had various locations for performances during the first twenty years, including Colorado State University’s Johnson Hall and the Poudre School District’s school auditoriums; however the dedication to bringing expressive arts to local children has always been known and appreciated. During the first years of the FCCT two shows were presented annually, but with growing costs, today the FCCT puts on one major production annually. Now, the FCCT runs five performances over the course of an extended weekend in November.
Each fall, local children and adults, both professional and talented amateurs, along with the Board of Directors, are able to bring the Lincoln Center Main Stage to life with enchanting and inspiring productions. The audiences have grown from approximately 1,400 people in 1959 to currently 6,000.
During the early 1980s the Board of Directors started a summer program for children ages 9-12, called the Peanut Butter Players, which ran for several weeks and ended with a short exhibit. Later, the summer program Jam Revue was added for children ages 12-15 years. During this program the participants had the opportunity to not only act but also help in the technical areas and backstage work. Currently the two summer programs are combined, being called the Peanut Butter and Jam Revue. The session welcomes children ages 10-14 years. Students of the program are offered an excellent opportunity to learn about live theatre and the various elements that contribute to a successful show, both onstage and back stage.
As the Fort Collins Children’s Theatre enters its fiftieth year of entertaining the Fort Collins locals and beyond, the donations and community involvement and support continue to be the key pieces in the success of the non-profit volunteer organization.