Fountain Hills Community Theater gave Tiana Torrilhon her first shot at stardom.
At age 8, Torrilhon tried out for a role in "The Music Man" — crying all the way through the audition. Executive director Val Stasik remembers Torrilhon’s stage fright.
"She auditioned with me holding her hand," Stasik said.
Torrilhon was not cast in the 1991 musical, but debuted in the October 1993 production of "Oliver." Over the years, Fountain Hills Community Theater became a steppingstone in the girl’s life, Stasik said.
"She ended up being one of the most prolific dramatic actresses," Stasik said.
Torrilhon is now a sophomore at Arizona State University, majoring in scenic design, and has painted the sets for the first youth production this year, "Stuart Little — The Musical," which opens the theater’s 2004 season tonight.
"Stuart Little" runs through Jan. 25 on the youth stage. The season’s first adult production, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," opens Jan. 23 and runs through Feb. 15 on the main stage.
Fountain Hills Community Theater was born 17 years ago. As the community has grown, the theater has grown with it. Families like the Torrilhons have seen their children act in plays and musicals, building self-esteem and falling in love with acting, Stasik said.
Torrilhon’s parents, Patty and Benoit, have been involved with the theater for years, working in stage management, education and in the box office.
Fountain Hills Community Theater was a fledgling local theater when Stasik took the helm in 1987, said Beverly Belury, vice chairwoman of the theater’s business board.
Stasik started with $500 to produce "A Christmas Carol" in 1987. In the early years, the company operated on a $5,000 annual budget, producing two to three shows per year, Stasik said.
Shows were performed at Fountain Hills Elementary School until 1995, when the theater acquired the old Fountain Hills Library — part of its current property at 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., which now hosts the 93-seat youth theater.
In 2003, the town gave the theater the former Fountain Hills Community Center building on the same property. It was transformed into the 134-seat adult main stage.
Fountain Hills Community Theater now operates on a budget of $300,000 to $400,000 annually, producing 15 shows and musicals per year. It also offers acting and dance classes, and summer camps for children and teens.
For more information about Fountain Hills Community Theater, call the box office at (480) 837-9661. Or visit the Web site www. fountainhillstheater.com.
"Stuart Little — The Musical"
When: Opens at 7 p.m. today through Jan. 25
Where: Youth Stage, Fountain Hills Community Theater, 11445 N. Saguaro Blvd., Fountain Hills
Cost: $8 children, $10 adults
Information: Call the box office at (480) 837-9661