The Canyon Theatre Guild has always done its best to make the world a better place by entertaining, educating, enlightening and enriching the community through quality live theatre. Forty-seven years ago, in early April of 1970, a notice appeared in the local Santa Clarita newspaper inviting interested members of the public to a community meeting to explore the possibility of forming a local theatre. In July of 1970, the Canyon Theatre Guild (CTG) mounted its first production at the William S. Hart High School Auditorium. There were 20 people in the audience that night and the auditorium seated approximately 1,000 — but the CTG spirit was born with that first show.
For years after that performance, the members of the CTG performed wherever they could find a space and an audience. Their first longtime home was at “Callahan’s Old West” up Sierra Highway. They kept producing successful shows, and from a total of 2,500 audience members for the four shows in its 1986-87 season, the theatre grew to an audience of over 13,000 for the nine shows of the 1999-2000 season. The work was accomplished 100 percent by volunteers from the theatre. And with the ingenuity of their technical volunteers and the tenacity of dedicated audience members who faithfully drove up Sierra Highway to support them, the theatre mounted productions the size of “The Wizard of Oz” and “Annie.”
By 1996, the Canyon Theatre Guild had the opposite challenge of that first show at Hart High. The Sierra Highway location was bursting at the seams. Members of the CTG again began to search for a new home which would meet their growing needs. In 1996, TimBen Boydston located a perfect, 6,000-square-foot property in downtown Newhall, and with the blessing of the board of directors, they started fundraising. The quest began to call 24242 Main Street the new home of the Canyon Theatre Guild.
Members of the Canyon Theatre Guild worked tirelessly to raise the funds. They hired Boydston as their full-time director of operations to facilitate fundraising efforts and coordinate the location purchase and renovation.
“It’s hard to believe that the very property that we wanted for our theatre was available three years later when we had finally secured enough money to make an offer,” Boydston said. The City of Santa Clarita Redevelopment Agency awarded one of its first grants to the CTG to assist in the purchase of the property, and in 2000 the Canyon Theatre Guild opened its new, state-of-the-art theatre with a seating capacity of 285 in Old Town Newhall. This new and central location allowed them to better serve the citizens of the Santa Clarita Valley with their existing programs and the increased space allowed them to expand programming.
The Canyon Theatre Guild has now been serving the citizens of Santa Clarita Valley with quality live theatre for over 47 years. The Guild produces 10 full-scale productions each season and has been voted the “Best Live Theatre” in the Santa Clarita Valley every year of the Reader’s Poll. Over 30,000 people attend performances each season. Over 500 SCV citizen artists and volunteers consistently demonstrate their love of the theatre through their donations of time, talent, and hard work. The CTG also receives support from local government, businesses, and corporations and thousands of Santa Clarita citizens.
With all this success, The Canyon Theatre Guild now gives back to the community in multiple ways. They serve the youth of the community through the Youth Theatre Institute, offering 10 full production workshops throughout the year for kids of all ages. Tuition is low, fun factor is high – AND – all experiences are designed to teach much more than theatre! Best of all, 10 percent of all workshop participants are given full scholarships by the CTG, based on financial need as identified by the Boys and Girls Club. In addition, each year the CTG awards 2-3 $500 scholarships to graduating seniors from local high schools. The theatre donates hundreds of free theatre tickets to the Boys & Girls Club, churches and other non-profit organizations. They donate goods and services to over 90 community non-profit organizations and gallery space to the Santa Clarita Artists’ Association for the display of local artists’ work.
From day one, the Canyon Theatre Guild has truly been a community effort. Literally, thousands of volunteer hours go into the efforts of CTG in all areas, from design and construction to financing. The hundreds of shows that have been produced by the non-profit group have brought seasoned actors together with beginners in a spirit of fun and cooperation. For information on summer shows, summer youth theatre camps and volunteer opportunities, call the CTG Box Office at 661-799-2702 and become part of a vibrant, working theatre with a robust history and future.