Zao Theatre is a community theatre, a ministry of Centerstage Church. Zao Theatre's mission is to engage, inspire, entertain, and challenge audiences with theatrical productions that range from the classics to new works. We train and support the next generation of theatre artists. We provide arts education that promotes life-long learning to a diverse community. We celebrate the essential power of the theatre to develop one's sense of self, community, and the purpose of life. We believe that God has called artists who are Christians to use their art for Him. We believe that theatre arts in the hands of committed believers should impact the world and further the kingdom of God.
I Corinthians 10:30 "Therefore . . . whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
Psalm 33:3 "Sing to the Lord a new song; play skillfully with a shout of joy."
Zāo is a Greek verb meaning "to live, breathe, be among the living, to enjoy real life." Theatre is defined as a collaborative form of art that uses live performers to present a real or imagined event before a live audience. That is exactly what we do at Zao Theatre; we live, breathe, and enjoy real life.
Zao Theatre became a living, breathing entity in 2014 with the production of Neil Simon’s "The Odd Couple." Shortly after that, Simon's play, "Barefoot in the Park" was presented. The first important hurdles for a new theatre had been achieved; actors were willing to work with us and the audience found us. Zao Theatre was alive!
In 2015, the production team forged ahead with the gripping drama, "To Kill a Mockingbird." As soon as that show closed, volunteers started getting ready to move the church and theatre to a new location at Ironwood and Broadway where, once settled, we jumped into our very first musical offering, "Godspell." With another successful production under our belt, the production team started looking around for plays and musicals that would fit our venue and our director's vision. We soon learned that the size of the vision was not limited by the size of the stage, which seemed to grow with each new production.
By the fourth season, Zao Theatre was privileged to be eligible for nomination for the prestigious ariZoni Theatre Awards of Excellence (Zoni). Each year, after completion of an exhaustive judging process, these awards are presented to those individuals and theatres who have excelled in performance and production during the just-completed season. Since that time, Zao Theatre, its actors, and production teams have been recipients of multiple Zoni Awards.
Zao Theatre continued to thrive at the Broadway location until the interruption of the sixth season by the pandemic shutdown when, mid-season, the lights of the Zao stage went dark. The theatre came back to life for an abbreviated seventh season with very successful productions of small cast shows.
Then, at the beginning of the eighth season, the lights of the Zao stage once again went dark when the church was informed the lease on the Broadway property was terminated. The season was abandoned after the opening show as the arduous task of finding a new church/theatre home began.
With much prayer and persistance, the Centerstage Church search team finally found a new home. With the help of many volunteers, the new building was renovated while the church and theatre properties were sorted, culled, packed and moved to our new home on Kings Ranch Road in Gold Canyon. A ninth theatre season was now possible.
Our theatre venue is smaller now, and more intimate, making it possible to immerse the audience in the performance. With enthusiastic support for the new location by Zao Theatre patrons, actors, and volunteers, and the warm reception by our new community, Zao's ninth season was a complete success.
As we look forward to celebrating our tenth season of Zao Theatre shows, we are thankful that God provided the means for Centerstage Church to purchase the Kings Ranch Road property as our forever home. Under the creative leadership of Zoni Awarding Artistic Director, Michael E. "Mickey" Bryce, and a dedicated team of actors and crew, Zao Theatre is alive and thriving. Come see one of our shows. You'll be glad you did.
A BRIEF HISTORY