In 1988 Hank and Nancy Beebe had a dream and an ambition to start a non-profit theatre to showcase local talent and provide the Greater Sebago Lakes Region with quality entertainment. So, after purchasing the Old Standish High School, the building was transformed over the next 33 years to become a staple of the Lakes Region Community. The mission of the theatre has never changed: educate first and the production will organically follow. And since 1988, we have done our best to live up to that ideal.
Through the 1990's and into the early 2000's Schoolhouse produced a number of well known musical hits such as Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Meredith Wilson's The Music Man, even The Beverly Hillbillies. In addition to the extremely popular summer musical, Schoolhouse has also been known to produce gut-wrenching comedies such as Michael Frayne's Noises Off to Rowan and Martin's hilarious Laugh In.
Since the 2000's Schoolhouse has evolved even more, expanding offerings, developing an Education Department with classes, workshops and opportunities reserved for children as young as four through their teen years. The organization has since developed a full season of Junior Musicals and Kids Productions that are produced on the Main Stage. In the summer months, Schoolhouse runs weekly summer camps for kids and teens covering a wide variety of topics from Directing, Acting Techniques, Princess and Pirate Camp, Storybook Theatre, Schoolhouse Summerstock, and many more. In keeping with our long tradition of focusing rehearsals and production process on the education of cast members, the Junior and Kids Productions are a pillar of the greater philosophy that is Schoolhouse.
In addition to the Education Department, Schoolhouse offers four Main Stage productions a year with the highlight being the Summer Musical which attracts hundreds of people per night through our doors. With such memorable productions such as Fiddler on the Roof (2013) or Disney's Beauty and the Beast (2016), or Seussical the Musical (2018), the always family-friendly summer musical is a must see.
Our Main Stage accompanied by a secondary performance venue on the second level of the building. The Blackbox Theatre is home to a youth group of teens involved with the organization called The Blackbox Teens. This working group collaborates on projects, fundraisers and performance opportunities separate from the Education Department but following the same ideals. Meeting bi-weekly, the Blackbox Teens gather together and create action plans to tackle any tasks that helps the theatre continue serving its purpose. They also produce three performances a year solely chosen, directed and performed (and sometimes written) by the group: The Midwinter One Acts, Truly Talented Kids, and The Fall One Acts.
As of 2019, Schoolhouse has introduced a complete "Black Box Season". The shows that are produced as a part of the season, are usually more intimate and have only a few cast members (whereas our Main Stage can accommodate a cast of 30-40). But, not only is this space used for productions, The Blackbox also doubles as a classroom and rehearsal space.
Schoolhouse Arts Center was founded by a couple of dreamers. Fortunately, their dreams became a reality and continue 34 years later. The organization has welcomed kids as young as four years old, and watched them grow up through the program until finally they head off to college and find their own adventures in their lives. But Schoolhouse continues, and many of these people that have gone away from Schoolhouse, always seem to find their way back. Why? Because Schoolhouse Arts Center is more than just a theatre or a program, it is an idea based on the belief that everyones's creativity is welcomed and nurtured here. The idea of Schoolhouse is what keeps our audiences entertained and coming back.
So what do you say? When can you swing by and become a part of the family?
-The Board of Directors (2021)