by Blake Herzog
Prescott Valley Performing Arts began sharing plays and musicals with life lessons with the community 19 years ago.
It finally has a home of its own, thanks to an ensemble of volunteers and donors bringing the 156-seat Main Street Theatre to life.
The group, primarily dedicated to giving kids and teens a turn in the spotlight, is back from a four-year hiatus after losing its performance venue near the Harkins movie theater, building its own while contending with pandemic-fueled shutdowns, and dealing with budget constraints. q
“We’ve had such generous donors coming out to help us make this dream come true,” executive director Rebecca Riffle-Bakody says. “We don’t owe anything on it, it’s our building. We didn’t have to go to a bank and get a big loan or anything. We did it all with donations and volunteers, which is something that’s almost unheard of.”
Prescott Valley Performing Arts stepped onto the brand-new stage April 30 to May 1 for a “soft opening” with a student-directed production of A Doll’s House, followed by Gilligan’s Island: The Musical as the public grand opening. It drew 500 attendees over several nights. It also hosted two kids’ summer camp shows and a concert.
The group will continue following the all-inclusive vision of founder and artistic director Clyde Neville, who created what was originally known as the Lonesome Valley Playhouse because there were very few youth activities in the Town that weren’t sports-based.
“When we did Alice in Wonderland, which was our very first show, I needed 17 kids and 42 kids showed up, and I cast all 42 of them. They were ladybugs, they were dragonflies, they were butterflies. It was such a success that we just kept going with it,” Neville says.
He adds that they’ve done 89 shows over the years, 54 devoted to showcasing children up to age 18. The group’s reach has extended to 16 “family” shows with cast members of all ages and 19 “Mainstage” productions for performers 18 and older.
“We teach a lot of life skills to these kids, all the way up to 80 years old,” he says.
The Main Street Theatre, on the north side of Findlay Toyota Center on property being leased for $1 a year from the Fain family of developers and ranchers, will primarily be a venue for Prescott Valley Performing Arts’ theatrical productions, as well as for some concerts, community receptions and similar gatherings.
Other sources of support include Home Depot, Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott and almost 20,000 volunteer hours, including multiple contractors who have worked for free or reduced cost.
A grant from the Town of Prescott Valley completed the construction and will go toward ongoing operations and maintenance, as well as a new youth choir.
Prescott Valley Performing Arts’ schedule
for the rest of the year includes:
• A Wrinkle in Time Aug. 19-20 and Aug. 26-27
• Pirates Past Noon Sept. 30-Oct. 1 and Oct. 7-8
• The Rocky Horror Show Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 4-5
• Two holiday-themed shows in December