In 1976 St. Albert’s youth programs were focused in the areas of recreation, social services and, to some degree, culture. After conducting several surveys and holding many meetings in schools, the City recognized a need for more specialized programming in theatre and performing arts.
In 1978 the City introduced performing arts programs that were more relevant to community theatre. By 1979 the City had shifted the program’s emphasis to children’s theatre. In 1981 the City created a Cultural Leadership Coordinator position, which helped focus this programming to develop leadership skills in youth. This focus led to the inception of Imaginings— the City’s first summer drama program. Imaginings presented St. Albert’s first all-children production, The Hobbit. From that, St. Albert Children’s Theatre was born.
In 1983 St. Albert Place opened its doors and St. Albert Children’s Theatre (SACT) became its resident company. SACT put on regular productions and started to develop a loyal following. By the late 1980s, the program had increased its profile outside of St. Albert. Spring and winter productions became regular, well-publicized events.
In 1995 the City first hosted the International Children’s Festival of the Arts and invited SACT to provide entertainment on the Festival's Outdoor Stage. The following year, SACT moved its spring production to coincide with the International Children’s Festival becoming a featured act. Year after year, SACT productions are always the first to sell out at the Festival.
Over SACT’s 35-year history, there have been three Artistic Directors: Maralyn Ryan, the program’s founder (1981 to 1991); John B. Lowe (1991 to 1995); and Janice Flower (1995 to present).
“Full-bodied Broadway musicals; hip alternative fare...St. Albert Children’s Theatre tackles them all, in productions that make no concessions. It’s startling, and inspiring, to see the way young talent rises to the occasion. Definitely not child’s play.”
-Liz Nichols, Edmonton Journal
"St. Albert Children’s Theatre cast really delivers the goods...their youthful energy strikes a spark and makes us smile...it’s pure theatre, the kind with a lot of heart that rouses audience to a standing ovation."
-Anna Borowiecki, St. Albert Gazette
"The St. Albert Children’s Theatre is something of a legend. For decades now they have been presenting superb family entertainment. They are sophisticated musical affairs that are the equal of anything you can see on any Edmonton stage."
-Colin MacLean, Edmonton Sun/GigCity
St. Albert Children’s Theatre Facts
- SACT has presented over 100 productions.
- More than 300 children participate in St. Albert Children’s Theatre projects each year.
- Since 1981, more than 4,000 children have participated in SACT productions.
- SACT participated in the IAVE World Volunteer Conference in 1997, which was held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
- SACT has toured nationally and has produced a professional CD compilation.
- SACT is known as a unique Canadian program and regularly receives provincial and national coverage.
*Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
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Last edited: April 28, 2021