STAGE COACH THEATRE-A BRIEF HISTORY
Stage Coach Theatre was established as a non-profit 501(C)3 corporation in 1981. The original Board of Directors consisted of five founding members. The main objectives of the theatre at that time were
1) to provide quality theatre to the community at a low cost,
2) to bring live theatre to communities that would otherwise not be exposed to live theatre, and
3) to use local actors and writers whenever possible and eventually to pay them.
The original name was The Stagecoach Inc. It had nothing to do with doing western themed plays, but referred to traveling to other communities. The logo on their first sign was an actual stagecoach. The reference was a bit obscure and caused no end of confusion because of the Stagecoach Inn Restaurant in Garden City.
In the early ’90s, the by-laws were revised and the Stagecoach name was split into Stage Coach. It was felt the because we were not traveling, the reference to the conveyance didn’t mean anything to the public, and that perhaps because we were “coaches of stage work” the name “Stage Coach” would make more sense and separate us a little more in the public’s mind from the restaurant.
There were five productions the first season that were performed in the basement of the Basque Center in downtown Boise. Ticket prices were $3.50 and the annual operating budget was just over $5,000. One production that year did travel to Mountain Home, ID and one production was written by one of the founding members. The first two seasons at the Basque Center were followed by two seasons at the Women’s Club on Main Street in downtown Boise and one season at the former Chapins Restaurant on Federal Way in Boise.
We then negotiated with the City of Boise to lease an abandoned, former fire station/traffic court for $1,000 per year. We enjoyed eleven seasons in that building before it was torn down for a road-widening project. We then moved to the location in the Hillcrest Shopping Center and spent 14 happy years performing in the strip mall.
Over the years, the idea of changing SCT’s name has come up frequently as there was still some confusion as to SCT’s identity. However, a suitable replacement name was never suggested and the name remained Stage Coach Theatre, although the initials became more frequently used. In honor of the 25th season, a new logo was introduced that incorporated the name and initials with a brand.
In December of 2010, Stage Coach Theatre’s Sword of Damacles finally fell, and they were given notice that their current landlords had found a renter for the west end of the Hillcrest Shopping Center. After 14 years, SCT had to leave. In January, a horde of volunteers descended on the theater to move everything the theater had including costumes, props, wood room contents, paint, auditorium seats, doors and windows. The Lithia Ford Company had a building they were leasing and generously allowed SCT to store their possessions there until the lease ended in April of 2011.
Meanwhile, the newly installed board began the search for a new location. Three shows were performed in temporary locations at the Idaho Outdoor Association and the Center for Spiritual Living while the board searched. Finally, on April 1, 2011, an announcement was made that the board had found a building to buy. However, they had to raise a $10,000 down payment and $5,000 for build-out costs. The building is the old Dino’s Bar and Grill, located at 4802 Emerald. The theater held an Open House on April 15, 2011 to encourage donations but when the date arrived, the $15,000 had already been raised. However, the the Open House was well attended and the theater raised close to $23,000, exceeding their immediate needs and allowing for extra build-out.
SCT performed one show in the permanent facility on a temporary occupancy permit and then closed the doors of the facility for the remodel. Again, hordes of volunteers assisted in drywalling, painting, plumbing, laying carpet, etc. to get it in shape for the eventual opening. Meanwhile, SCT continued using temporary locations around the Bench area, empty storefronts all along Orchard hosted SCT for six more productions. At this point, SCT had been a gypsy theater group for sixteen months.
SCT took occupancy in May of 2012, when they produced two shows through June and July of that year to work out the kinks of performing there and making sure that everything was truly ready for the public. The doors officially opened for the 32nd Season and a Grand Opening of the location in in August of 2012.
Stage Coach Theatre has seen tremendous growth over the last thirty-two years. The original five member Board grew to twelve members and then reduced to five members, who are elected annually by the membership. There are currently eight regular productions each season making Stage Coach Theatre the first year round theatre in Boise.
The move to our various facilities saw our rent increase from $1,000 per year to current mortgage payments that are close $15,000 per year. That coupled with increases in utilities and production costs has increased our annual budget to approximately $48,000. This has only spurred the creativeness of our directors, actors and technical volunteers asking them to do great things on what can laughingly be described as shoe-string budgets.
NOTE: The spelling of “Theatre” in Stage Coach Theatre is the English spelling and used to differentiate between live stage “Theatre” and movie “Theaters.”
Written by LaRae Walker, edited by Helene Myers & Kim Sherman-Labrum.
Photo courtesy of Budge Photography
As more of our history translates from oral to digital, we will continue to add pieces.
Gerry Bryant found this almost pristine copy of the very first season poster:
This bit of memorabilia that was found taped to a pull-out tray in one of desks that we use for set pieces. This is the line-up for our sixth season:
A copy of a poster from our sixth season, contributed by Marian Shepherd, “which hangs on my wall to this day.”
If you have memorabilia, pictures, pieces of history or anything else, please let us know: email@example.com