Back in the days before The Parkite condos glimmered across from the iconic Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre (328 Main St, 855.745.SHOW, parkcityshows.com), aspiring young performers happily gathered in their neighbor’s basement—on loan from then-owners Randy and cookie queen Debbi Fields—to act, sing, and dance. “[The space] wasn’t pretty,” recalls YouTheatre Director Jamie Wilcox, but the kids still cried when 333 Main Street sold in 2012 and the theater company got the boot.
Undeterred, the little-theater-that-could started fundraising, bought the familiar subterranean space, and remodeled its 9,000 square feet into classrooms, a 150-seat black box theater, and a private event space (all the while, cranking out shows at its primary location and running youth programs at schools and borrowed spaces throughout town). This fall, the youngsters returned—via an under-Main-Street tunnel—to what is now known as the Egyptian Studios.
“It’s a brand-new, gorgeous theater, and it’s our home,” says Wilcox. “It’s almost overwhelming to think about.” As head of the nonprofit’s programs for children and teens, Wilcox is planning and expanding the YouTheatre repertoire, adding the likes of puppetry improv and a “Triple Threat” class (acting, singing, and dancing, plus mock audition) to ever-evolving programming, which already serves 750 youngsters annually. And with the potential to fill eight classrooms at a time (instead of just one), “the sky’s the limit,” she says.
Thanks to the new stage, the space is also primed for shows. Rather than vying for time between big-name acts on the Egyptian’s main stage, YouTheatre can now rehearse and perform on its own, starting with this winter’s inaugural black box show, A Christmas Carol Radio Play—Live! For the grown-up set, the chic underground digs also play host to shindigs for the Pharaoh Club, the donor/social membership arm of the nonprofit largely responsible for footing the new studios’ roughly $4 million bill.