Story By Wil Crews
Photos Contributed By Alsobrook Performing Arts
Sarah Kate Alsobrook is young, but she is already making an impact in the field of local theater.
Her non-profit Alsobrook Performing Arts Company (APAC) provides an opportunity for children of all ages to have an accessible and affordable area for the community of Opelika to grow in their appreciation and expression of the performing arts.
Alsobrook is a performer, director, choreographer, instructor and artistic director of APAC. She said she is passionate about making the arts accessible regardless of background so that every child has the opportunity to receive a well-rounded arts education and/or training. She has performed in productions through Belmont University, Western Kentucky University, the Public Theatre of Kentucky and other theatres throughout Tennessee and Kentucky. She has choreographed numerous productions, including Tuck Everlasting, Junie B. Jones the Musical, Chicago, Oklahoma, Disney’s Aladdin, Disney’s Mary Poppins and Cats: the Musical.
As an educator, she has taught various styles of dance through Rejoice School of Ballet of Nashville, Dance Arts of Bowling Green and currently, Variations Dance Studio in Auburn. She received training in acting, dance, directing, technical theatre and theatre education at Belmont University, and graduated in December 2021 with a B.A in Theatre and Arts Administration from Western Kentucky University.
Alsobrook grew up in the Auburn-Opelika area. During her middle school years, her family moved to Kentucky, where Alsobrook spent the remainder of her secondary-education schooling years.
Nearing graduation, and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alsobrook was convinced that moving back home closer to extended family in the Auburn-Opelika area was her best option. It was then that she discovered the need for APAC.
“I noticed that for the size of the population in both Auburn and Opelika there wasn’t a whole lot of theater opportunities,” Alsobrook said. “And with the ones there are, there are so many children that it is hard to accommodate them all through the current programming that there is.”
In the fall of 2021, Alsobrook reached an agreement with a recreational facility in Opelika to allow her to start her own theatre group.
“That’s when I decided to start out of the rec center in Opelika and had a few kids in the class, and then grew from there,” she said.
Following months of hard work, APAC put on its first production in the spring of 2022.
“It takes a lot to put on the productions,” Alsobrook said.
Whereas she had experience as an actor and sometimes as a choreographer in college productions, Alsobrook was surprised by the amount of work that goes into the overall planning of a show. From the costumes and props, the technical elements of lighting, marketing and ticketing and the rehearsals, Alsobrook “realized very quickly that the behind the scenes was not meant to be done by one person.”
That’s where the community spirit of local theatre comes in. Alsobrook said she has been fortunate and thankful to have the support of parents and volunteers who have made putting on productions possible.
“All of the parents have been super quick to help,” she said. “They have painted sets, worked our ticket booth and everything in between.”
APAC currently has three productions slated for 2023. The next one, a stage adaptation of Roahd Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, is set for March 2 through 5. The production involves 38 children, 10 of whom work on the technical team with designing sets and costumes. Then, APAC is planning a musical production of Xanadou, based on the 1980 movie of the same name. Lastly, APAC has planned for a production of Disney’s Finding Nemo — The Musical, for the summer.
“Now that we are kind of established I am able to add a lot more productions, especially because we now have the amazing space at Southside Center for the Arts,” Alsobrook said. “I try to keep it both varied in the type of show, as well as the content so that the kids get a nice, well-rounded experience with theater.”
At its heart, APAC believes in the power of the arts to influence on both an individual and community level, and it works to bring the influence of the arts to performers and audience members alike through both high-quality productions and classes, Alsobrook said.
Ultimately, what Alsobrook is trying to do with her non-profit comes back full circle to her childhood.
“This was my experience growing up as well, is that the arts — whether its music, dance, theater — for kids can be very expensive and sometimes exclusionary depending on what kind of resources or parental involvement you have,” she said.
“So, I am very passionate about making sure that every child, regardless of where they come from or what they have, is able to get fully involved with the arts and get all that it can bring.”
A self-proclaimed shy child herself, Alsobrook reflected on the benefits theatre provider her while growing up, and said she wants to share that with the local community.
“My involvement with theater brought me so much confidence as well as community and friends and all those things you want as a kid,” she said. “And I have gotten to see just in the short time that I have done it these children who will come in with social anxiety or loneliness and sadness, and be able to just see how theater and being able to be on the stage working toward telling a story with people who become their friends can just brighten them up, bring out their real personality and enjoy all those things. At the heart of it, that is what I want for the theater and for APAC.”
Alsobrook Performing Arts Company is located at 213 Carver Ave. in Opelika. For more information about classes or shows, visit: https://www.alsobrookperformingarts.