For some of the most exciting stage performances in the Valley, look no further than Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale. Desert Stages Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit theater performing quality musicals and straight plays year round. Founded by the late Gerry Cullity and his wife Laurie in 1995, their vision has grown and expanded to create the explosion of music, dancing, artistry, and learning that Desert Stages is known for today.
Desert Stages started out as a tiny local theater in a strip mall in July of 1995 when only thirteen actors showed up to audition for it’s first ever show. It was not until May of 2004 that it moved to the 6500 square foot art deco building it stands in today. There are two stages in the building. The largest, known as Cullity Hall, is a 136 seat theater-in-the-round. Shows like Footloose, West Side Story, Fiddler On The Roof, and Cabaret have all graced this stage. Many of the shows have won critical acclaim in local publications, and many local awards as well.
Cullity Hall is shared by the On Stage (formerly Children’s) Theater which is performed by children ages 3-19. The program has recently expanded to include Next Stage Theatre for children ages 12-19 which is more intensive than On Stage. This naturally leads strong performers to Mainstage for 16 and up. Of course, for the youngest actors who may not be ready to take on a full musical, Center Stage for ages 4-10 is also available. Classic musicals are performed by the children, as well as some originals written by Gerry Cullity himself. As an accomplished director, actor, musician, and lyricist, his legacy continues to be performed on stage and delights audiences year after year. Shows like The Butterfly’s Day, In the Kingdom of Clouds, and The Snow Queen are some favorites.
The second stage is known as The Actor’s Cafe. This traditional and intimate 60 seat venue has traditional seating as well as cafe style tables and chairs. Since the summer of 2004, many small cast productions such as I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, and The Mousetrap have been performed and enjoyed here. As with on the main stage, many of the productions are award winning and always popular.
As well as rehearsals and performances, Desert Stages also has a year round Academy of Theatrical Arts and Summer Camp for Young Actors, ages 3-15. These classes and the camp introduce young actors to the world of theater and performing. This helps to foster important qualities like public speaking, confidence, discipline, and creativity. It helps them to learn and hone the skills that will be needed to enter into the world of performing while having fun at the same time. Occasionally, Audition Dance Camps are also held for upcoming auditions. Sometimes, the dance moves for a particular show are quite involved so those who want to get a head start on learning the routines can do so at the Dance Camp.
The Desert Stages website is always full of information about the children’s programs, upcoming seasons, and happenings. There’s a space where you can register online to audition when show auditions come up. You can also buy tickets, register for camps, and join the email list. All the licensing information for Gerry’s originals is also there. One of the most anticipated events each year beside the shows is the Gala. The annual Look Into Your Heart Gala and Silent Auction is always a fun and exciting event. As a non-profit, the theater relies partially on donations to keep it’s doors open, and audiences entertained. There’s a space on the website where you can donate year round or attend the Gala, and have a great time knowing you’re supporting a worthy cause. Come to experience a little bit of Broadway right in the heart of Scottsdale.