The story of PNT is the story of two young people who dedicated their lives to reaching out to people in their community through theater. Soon their growing success drew hundreds of eager participants, loyal and appreciative families, inspired volunteers and enthusiastic supporters.
The mission of Pacific Northwest Theater is to provide an entertaining and affordable theatrical experience to the Pacific Northwest. PNT strives to build a relationship with the community by providing enriching and educational programs. In addition, the Pacific Northwest Theater offers opportunities for local individuals interested in all other aspects of theater.
PNT mounts full youth theater productions through its after-school programs and summer camps. PNT productions involve beautiful costumes, custom built sets, hand-painted scenery, technical lighting and sound, accompanying music, choreographed dancing, harmonious singing, and above all … joyful kids having the times of their lives performing on stage before family and friends.
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NON-PROFIT AND COMMUNITY FOCUS
PNT is a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Olympia, Washington. Lauren and Steven both have deep roots in Southwest Washington, especially in Olympia and Shelton. Our community has a rich artistic heritage with Arts Walks, statues along the water, totem poles on honored sites, murals on electrical boxes, and performances in venues great and small. But Olympia is not home to many full-time artists, especially for the theater arts, who often feel the need to flee to Seattle or Portland or points further. PNT is part of a tight theater community here that not only introduces stage performing to kids, but also builds their foundation of skills and seeks to provide life-long opportunities.
For Steven, Lauren and Nickolas, musical theater is not only about performance. It is a means to connect with people, to create safe and encouraging spaces where people explore and experience their emotions through the characters they portray. This builds confidence and trust that carries over into young people’s lives and transforms families and whole communities. PNT knows that a thriving theater community creates well-balanced, self-confident socially-skilled people that can accomplish much, both on and off the stage.
PNT’s first summer program was Mulan in 2013. Steven and Lauren had been dating for a month (they went on to be married in 2015) when Steven convinced her to help him put on a summer youth show at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Olympia. They were both coming off of stints at Capital Playhouse. Over the next several years, they worked together to put on summer programs and after-school programs at Griffin, Roosevelt, McKenney and elsewhere. Year over year, they added schools, added shows, and most importantly … added participants and a loyal following of young people and their families.
By 2017, PNT was building momentum, and Nickolas Carlson took the musical experience to a whole new level with his vocal instruction and expert piano accompaniment. Then a bunch of parents who saw firsthand the transformations in their own kids through experiences at PNT, got together, wrapped their arms around Steven, Lauren and Nickolas, and established PNT as an official nonprofit organization. PNT began offering programs for high school aged students, winning grant funding to purchase equipment, selling out summer programs, and celebrating with annual picnics.
When COVID hit in 2020, PNT suffered the same losses as all arts and activities which relied upon people gathering and acting in close quarters. But PNT also celebrated during that time as Steven and Lauren brought a child of their own into this world and named her Theodora. Teddy met the students, parents, volunteers and staff of PNT as the theater resurged into renewed life in 2021. Since then, PNT has expanded every year, added the PNT Carnival to the line up in May, and sees a bright future ahead.
In the coming years, PNT will build upon the foundation of alumni to begin to offer programs and classes to college aged and adult students. PNT believes that the love of theater is lifelong and can not only be enjoyed as a hobby, but also successfully pursued as a full time profession. To fulfill its promise, PNT will find and enhabit a permanent space for performances, rehearsals, creation and storage of costumes and props, and a shop to construct scenery and backdrops. PNT will expand its presence and connection to the community, businesses, patrons, families and artists.