Gabriel Corbin

(Rock Hill, S.C.) — The Showtime Theatre Company, based in Rock Hill, S.C., has expanded its operations by creating a new leadership-based academy that will focus on training students to become leaders and performers in the arts. 

Founded in 2015 by Robert and Jennifer Read, the nonprofit theatre organization has put on annual shows during the fall, winter and summer holidays.

They’ve produced shows including “Annie,” “High School Musical” and “Mary Poppins” and they’re currently working on producing a version of the Disney Channel’s “Descendants,” which will premiere in February.

“The goal for the company is to encourage and to put arts throughout the community,” said Caileigh Petty, a choreographer for Showtime. “Being able to share and bring arts to life in a challenging time is definitely the goal of the company right now.”

The new Showtime Theatre Academy will focus on teaching students and adults about theatre.

“We have new everything,” said Alexa Thomas, social media director for the company. “We have a ton of new courses and we’re going to be offering stuff year-round, basically, for people of all ages to perform.” 

While the company will continue to produce shows year-round, the academy will be focused on offering classes for children as young as 5, middle and high school students and adults who want to train in dance, fitness and music. 

“Initially, we were just Showtime Theatre Company, which focused on productions. We did try to provide some training. We had a few classes, but not a lot,” said Elyse Petty, a choreographer with the group. “Then we have branched off into Showtime Theatre Academy, which is kind of side-by-side with the company.”

The expansion also includes a new office, located at 325 S. Oakland Ave. in Rock Hill, which feature space for students to train in the arts and do their homework in between rehearsals.

“So much has changed,” Jennifer Read, Showtime’s director, said. “We are now at a point where we have shows dedicated to elementary (school students), shows dedicated to our teens and tweens, a summer show for teens and adults and multiple performance opportunities throughout the year.”

A number of students and parents have had positive things to say about the academy. 

“I love that it’s a safe place for me to come after school to express myself and just be creative,” Grace Morris, a student and performer at Showtime, said. “I’m really excited about it. I feel like we’re reaching a lot more people and a lot of exciting things are happening…and new opportunities are opening up.” 

Karen Jambe, a parent whose children perform with Showtime, said she thinks adding the academy was a “necessary” change.

“You needed the academy to grow the business side of it, but we still have (the theatre company), which is still a 501(c) nonprofit for all intents and purposes, but we needed the brick and mortar in order to expand.” 

She said, despite the changes, Showtime will continue to perform full-scale productions that bring in people who love the performing arts.

“The one thing that’s never been compromised in any show that we’ve ever done is the pure on-stage production value that we bring to a show,” Jambe said. “That’s better than any black box theatre could do.”

The Showtime Theatre Company will participate in Rock Hill’s Christmasville celebration Dec. 4-5.