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Theater troupe has a home at last

Cast member Leslie Larson, left, and director Jennifer Ophardt of Liberty Lake Community Theatre. (Lisa Leinberger)
Cast member Leslie Larson, left, and director Jennifer Ophardt of Liberty Lake Community Theatre. (Lisa Leinberger)

Liberty Lake group sets up shop on Appleway

The Liberty Lake Community Theatre has a place to call home.

After five years – and more than a dozen plays – the theater has its own stage at 22910 E. Appleway Ave.

The musical comedy “Got it Made” is the first show on the new stage.

Jennifer Ophardt started the theater group in 2008. She had moved to Liberty Lake a couple of years before, and was a self-described “bored, stay-at-home mom.” She searched the immediate area for a community theater. Not one for being on stage, Ophardt directed plays in college and had been hoping to get involved locally.

She found theater groups in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane. She found children’s theater in Spokane Valley and North Idaho.

But she didn’t find anything for adults in Liberty Lake.

Until now, the group has been fairly nomadic. Ophardt said they have held rehearsals at her house, in a suite lent to the group from Greenstone and any other place they could gather. They performed at Zephyr Lodge, the Kave, and other places in and around Liberty Lake. She started collecting donations from the very beginning.

The group’s new theater seats 96 people and features a stage built by Ophardt and cast member Kevin Kuecken. Volunteers paint and create the sets, sew the costumes and choreograph the dance routines during musicals. The lights are rented and part of the sound system was donated.

“We don’t pay anybody,” Ophardt said. She has no problem finding labor. She posts something on Facebook, and people show up with tools, pizza, beer and everything they need to build something. She is, however, looking for sponsors and someone after whom to name the theater.

She worries about making the rent each month, “but we have big dreams.”

Those dreams include its current play, “Got it Made,” a musical comedy they purchased online.

The musical director is Pamela Brownlee who was part owner of the former Rockin’ B Ranch. Their choreographer is Vicki Weaver, a Zumba instructor.

“She has done amazing things with the choreography,” Ophardt said. “She does it all in her living room when her kids are asleep.”

She said each actor and actress in the play has added his or her own touches. For example, Leslie Larson, playing a wealthy high-fashion photographer, kisses another character and leaves huge lipstick smears on his face.

“It really adds to the play,” she said.

After “Got it Made” finishes its run, the group will start auditions for its next endeavor, “Big Bad,” a children’s comedy. Auditions will be June 1 at 3 p.m. and June 2 at 4 p.m.

They are looking for a cast of 14 adults and children. Individuals auditioning don’t have to have experience, just enthusiasm.

One person you probably won’t see on stage will be Ophardt.

“I hate being on stage,” she said.