ABOUT A CHILDREN'S THEATRE
Welcome to Our Theatre,
A Children's Theatre of the Mesilla Valley was established in 1993. We have steadily grown over the past three decades. When we first opened our doors we only offered a single, all-age, theatre class that produced only one mainstage production per year. We have since expanded our season to four mainstage productions per year, including a musical performance. In addition, we produce two special audition-only productions open to adult community members as well, throughout our season in between mainstage productions.
During our ninth season we expanded into the film industry with an all inclusive film immersion class. Students learn every aspect of film making and ultimately produce a short film at the culmination of the class.
Most of our mainstage productions are held at the Historic Rio Grande Theatre in the Downtown Plaza. It is a beautiful theatre that fits our needs and style perfectly.
A Children's Theatre of the Mesilla Valley (ACT) is a local educational theatre and film arts studio focused on the growth of children ages 5 to 18 by making performing arts experiences available to the youth of Southern New Mexico, including underserved youth, such as those of low socio-economic status and those with leaning, mental health, and physical impairments. At ACT, everyone is invited!
ACT provides these valuable opportunities by conducting itself in a professional manner, providing knowledgeable and prepared theatre and film staff who teach with kindness and respect, and by keeping the safety of our students as a top priority. We have had a positive effect on the youth and arts community for more than 3 decades, providing education and enrichment to Las Cruces, Doña Ana and the Southern NM communities.
ACT had its first meeting of the Board of Directors in August 1993. It was the brainchild of Constance (Suter) Hasapopoulos who grew up in a family – and a town – that valued live theatre. When the first public meeting for interested parents and young people occurred in September the same year, the room was packed and ACT came to life. As a result of Constance's efforts with help from community members, artists and dedicated parents, ACT was founded.
In March 1994, ACT held its first public performance, “Yippee for the Wild West”, in the Corbett Small Auditorium at New Mexico State University to a full house.
In1995, the first Summer “Theatre Camp” was held at the Mesilla Park Recreation Center and in the fall Constance wrote and directed the first “Spooktacular”, a Halloween show at the Organ Mountain High School’s Performing Arts Center.
In 2001, ACT acquired 501c3 status and the ACT Film Arts Studio opened, offering classes in Filmmaking and in Acting for Film to all middle school and high school youth.
In 2008, Constance stepped down and Kelly King stepped in to the leadership role.
Pinky Kingsley joined as a parent in 1994 and was our first Show Coordinator/Front House Manager. Eileen Gilbert, who began her career at ACT as an audience member on field trips with her classes, was our first Technical Director.
In August 2019, we were able to lease our own studio space. This is where our classes, rehearsals and workshops are held. Our new space has given us opportunities to offer more workshops and classes.
In March 2022, Eileen Gilbert retired as Technical Director and the position was filled by Mike DerrGuitar, an alumni of ACT. In June 2022, Pinky Kingsley retired as Show Coordinator/Front of the House Manager and the position was filled by Cathi Buchman and Ann Marie Vasquez, both who began as parent volunteers. In August 2022, Kelly King retired as Executive Director and the position was filled by Sue Rexroth, who also began as a parent volunteer.
We perform at The Historic Rio Grande Theatre 4-6 times per year. Each production offers performances for daycare and school-aged only audiences, in addition to public performances. ACT welcomes new directors, local playwrights and enthusiastic volunteers!