The Venue Theatre exists to provide an accepting and enriching environment for the youth of our community -- for discovery, exploration and celebration of their unique and extraordinary abilities.
The Venue Theatre Company began in August 2013 when founder and artistic director Nelson Conway brought together a talented group of adult instructors dedicated to teaching important life skills to children and youth in the foothills communities through theater arts training.
In just three months, over five thousand hours of labor and $50,000 in construction materials were donated by two dozen volunteers to transform an open space into a Victorian theater while the first cast rehearsed in parks and churches. The Venue high school program performed its first production in November 2013, followed in the spring by middle and elementary program productions and another high school production. The second season included two high school musicals and one drama production and one musical each for elementary and middle school troupes. In summer of 2015, we offered acting, dance and choir workshops as well as a three-day master class by Pulitzer prize- and TONY award-winning lyricist Brian Yorkey for high school and college students. in 2015 - 2016, we offered two high school, one middle and one elementary musical, as well as a private school production and a public school workshop and a week-long elementary summer camp. Last year we exceeded our enrollment goals and added an additional middle school spring ensemble company to fill the educational needs of the ever-growing middle school population at The Venue. With 44 performances and over 140 students, 2016-2017 was our most successful season to date!
The Venue has truly become a village. Between rehearsals and instruction sessions, students and families spend weekends building and painting sets. Parent volunteers are the heart of the production staff, making costumes, gathering props, building sets, and managing the front of the house.
"...changes these kids' lives by teaching them that they can and should believe in themselves, they can and should try their hardest, they can accomplish things they never would have thought possible..." Katherine, parent
"I have always dreamed of going to New York and performing, but many have laughed at me, resulting in my questioning my own dreams for the future. But in the short seven months I've worked with Mr Conway, I finally possess the self-confidence to believe I can make a living playing pretend for the rest of my life, and most importantly, he believes I can, too." Jessica, high school participant
"He (Nelson) taught me that acting is much more than reading lines and he transformed a shy, introverted girl into a stronger, outgoing one." Lillian, high school participant
"...parents adore him and the compassionate way he inspires their children. ...he honors every person by lifting them up, treating them with consideration and civility. He listens intently, considers, and offers suggestions where needed. His integrity abounds." Joni, Elementary School Director
"...I see the miracles daily. I see their joy and astonishment when they succeed. I hear them tell me that 'I had the courage to stand up in class today'. I see their acceptance of other students who struggle to find their place in 'the outside world'. I see them feeling that The Venue is their home and a safe place to explore their potential. I see their pride and their accomplishments. I see their confidence to meet their future with courage and a smile." Debra, Accompanist
"I fear that many of these kids would 'fall into the cracks' in the social structure of their schools and potential friend groups. The cast members come from many different schools and socioeconomic backgrounds, and yet they meld together seamlessly. ...this occurs because...the...staff at The Venue Theatre emulate tolerance and acceptance for everyone. I have never observed a group of teenagers who are more accepting, kind, and inclusive. It is a wonderful environment for any child." Kelli, parent
"The Venue is a special place. It was my great pleasure to experience the enthusiasm of the kids, the quality of their work, and the devotion of the audience. And it's all a testament to Nelson Conway, who is one of the most passionate, dedicated theatre educators I've met. Get 'em young, I say - inspiring a passion for theatre in young people, and in their families, is the most important thing we can do, and Nelson gives every ounce of himsef to do it." Brian Yorkey, American playwright, lyricist, theatre director