Our Theater-The Marilyn Nelson Theater at Studio B Performing Arts Center
Studio B Performing Arts Center has been providing live theater, acting classes, and workshops in The Center since 1999. During the first year, Studio B was under the direction of our first Artistic Director, Pamela Putman Whittaker who had just twelve students with a desire to perform.
When Studio B began in 1999, it was part of The Academy of Fine Arts, which was owned and operated by Sarah Tedesco, whose family (The Nelsons) donated the building and land for its use as the academy. The theater itself was dedicated to Mrs. Tedesco's mother, Marilyn Nelson, who was instrumental in bringing the arts to the community. The very first show Studio B performed with the Academy of Fine Arts was Willy Wonka.
Soon, The Academy of Fine Arts closed and had left the community without a place where children and teens could participate in drama and musical theater so with a donation from the Attrell family to purchase costumes and props, a small drama program was developed with Pam at the lead. Jim Attrell chose the name Studio B for the group. That first summer was a small production of Sleeping Beauty using the lunchroom of a local middle school for its performances.
Small theater classes were conducted in the Highland Village Fire Department’s meeting room and in the spring, classes were moved to the more spacious Highland Village Police Training room at City Hall.
Two years later, the Highland Village Parks Foundation bought a large building (the same building where the Academy of Fine Arts was housed) to house a Teen Center and Studio B. A small stage (much smaller than the one today), space for costumes and props, and rooms for drama classes were provided. The first community musical theater production on this stage was Annie. With a permanent home, a dedicated space, and endless dedication to the arts and to families, Studio B was able to grow and flourish until it is now recognized as one of the premiere community theaters in the area.
The theater went from a few classes and one summer production to classes for students ages 4 to adult, 6 children’s productions, multiple summer workshops, adult productions, and community theater productions. Many of the young drama students have grown up and become successful theatre professionals or have continues their love of the arts in other ways.
Thanks to The Highland Village Parks Foundation, Pamela Putnam Whittaker, The Attrel, Tedesco and Nelson families, the City of Highland Village, Highland Village Parks and Recreation, The Academy of Fine Arts, and the families of those original drama students, Studio B was established and continues to serve the local community with classes, children’s productions, and community theatre productions.
Pamela Putman Whittaker was at the helm of Studio B until she moved in 2007 and Robin Hackett was hired as Artistic Director. I (DeAnna McDearmont) was hired as Managing Director alongside Ms. Hackett and soon after took over the role of Executive Director until the summer of 2013 when I moved out of the area with my family. During this time we expanded the offerings of Studio B with more classes, workshops and productions and worked to bring much-needed technology and an online presence to the theater. Jen Adame was named Executive Director in the summer of 2013 following my departure and soon after, Elizabeth Watson, who served as a director and instructor stepped in as Artistic Director. She was integral in running the theatre and continued to help it to grow.
Over the 20 years of Studio B, we have many, many individuals and families who have volunteered their time and resources to our theater. Our theater could not function without those who have spent countless hours directing, teaching, volunteering backstage, building sets, painting, making props and costumes, running fundraisers, sponsoring and running the box office. Today, Studio B is run by an all-volunteer board but the mission and objectives are the same as they were in 1999. Studio B continues to grow and still strives to maintain a family-friendly environment while providing the local community with quality live theater throughout the year as well as providing top-notch theater training to students of all ages.
Our mission, since 1999, is to encourage participation and appreciation of theatre, music, and the arts overall. Studio B strives to foster creativity and develop skills in acting, musical theatre, voice, dance, script development, and all around knowledge of the stage and theatre. Studio B prepares students for further studies in this genre and genres associated with it. Through classes, workshops and productions, we endeavor to create an atmosphere of creativity, imagination, collaboration and independent thinking. Through performing arts, the young and old alike can build self-esteem and confidence. Most importantly, Studio B unites the community and brings families together.