The spotlight is shining once again at Pierre’s Theatre in Victor. Now under new ownership, the historic theater officially reopened this month with a holiday production of “A Christmas Carol,” previously an annual tradition in Teton Valley.
On the opening night of the play, an excited crowd waited for the curtain to open as the theater’s lights twinkled and the smell of fresh popcorn hung in the air. The production is the first to take place in the newly-reopened theater and also the first show put on by the ACT Foundation, a new nonprofit founded by Milissa West.
“I love the history that’s in this Pierre’s Theatre. I love the family that created the Pierre’s Theatre,” West said. “Any opportunity I have to put something on onstage, I’m going to jump at it.”
West’s family has a long history in Idaho: Her grandparents helped settle Teton Valley about 100 years ago. She recently founded the ACT Foundation to support and produce community theater, and she’s using her background in thrift store management to do it: The foundation raises money through the new Second Act Thrift Store, also located in Victor.
“It’s where it all started,” West said. “The thrift store has magic, and the magic provides amazing opportunities for the ACT Foundation. Most of the costumes and decorations and things have come through the thrift store. And it just goes hand in hand.”
The historic theater, located on Main Street, was built in the 1950s and later bought by the local Egbert family, who renamed it Pierre’s Playhouse. The theater stayed in the family for decades but had been on and off the market in recent years, according to the Teton Valley News. West said she dreamed of preserving the building as a theater, and Anne Fish ended up being the buyer who made that happen.
“I had heard about Milissa West from the Act Foundation and that they were trying to preserve Pierre’s,” Fish said. “I had only ever been in here one other time for a movie and it came across my desk, being in the real estate industry, that it was on the market again, and I thought, ‘Wow, I have to do it.’”
Fish grew up surrounded by the arts in a musically talented family and has lived in Teton Valley or Jackson since 2001. While owning a theater wasn’t her original intention, she said she’s grateful for the opportunity to give back.
“I see this being a community gathering spot for the arts and entertainment and just a place of joy,” she said. “A place where people can come and have fun and smile and enjoy live productions, enjoy music.”
West said the ACT Foundation will continue to focus on raising money to support local theater productions and workshops year-round. Both she and Fish also said they’re excited about the possibilities of continued collaboration, including “possibly doing a summer play and a winter play, and some drama classes in between,” according to West.
“Set design, lights, cameras, actions—all of those things play into what our foundation wants to grow in our community.”
Bringing new life to the newly-renamed Pierre’s Theatre all started in October, with auditions for “A Christmas Carol,” which is running for two weekends this month.
Moving forward, Fish said she has some modern updates planned for Pierre’s. But one thing that will never change is the magic of bringing live, local theater to Teton Valley at Christmas.
“When they brought the little children from the elementary schools, I was up in the projection room and I literally had goosebumps all over and was almost in tears,” Fish said. “They were explaining, ‘Well, when the lights go down, then you get quiet, and then when the house lights are up…’ and just that education piece of it was so exciting to me.”
“The kids that are in the theater are just loving every bit of it and bringing [the] joy back into our lives that we lost several times throughout the last few years,” West added. “And so, I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
The final performances of “A Christmas Carol” will be held on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10-11. The shows—unfortunately for those who don’t have a ticket—are all sold out. But if you happen to be walking by during showtime, you might just catch a glimpse of the magic of a theater brought back to life.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The digital version of this story has been updated to clarify that while West was born in and has lived much of her life in Idaho, she is not a lifelong resident, as stated in the audio story.