Plano Children’s Theatre founder Sara Egelston Akers announces retirement

North Texas Performing Arts (NTPA) announced that Plano Children’s Theatre founder Sara Egelston Akers will retire at the end of May. Plano Mayor John Muns describes her as a vital and creative contributor to Plano’s performing arts landscape.

“We are so thankful for her leadership and impact over the past three decades,” he said. “The city and entire North Texas region owe Sara a debt of gratitude for the many gifts she has shared with us. We are thrilled to honor her as she moves to the next chapter in her life.”

In addition to founding children’s theatre in 1991, Akers served as its executive director and oversaw its operations for many years.  Since 2015, she’s served as NTPA’s vice president of community outreach, coordinating the organization’s fundraising, community outreach and diversity efforts.

Sara Egelston Akers

“Sara’s impact on the performing arts across North Texas has been profound, and her work has impacted thousands of families,” NTPA CEO Darrell Rodenbaugh said. “Sara is a gifted educator, counselor, leader, artist and dear friend. We wish her the very best of happiness as she moves into this next phase of her life.”

After a successful production of “A Wizard of Oz” at Grace Presbyterian Church, Akers founded Plano Children’s Theatre in 1991 along with founding board members Rebecca Egelston Caso, Dick Anthony, and Lanny Wren.

After two years at Grace Presbyterian, the theatre opened a permanent facility at 15th Street & Custer Road. That facility was later expanded to incorporate two performance theatres and rehearsal studios.

In 2005, Plano Children’s Theatre began offering productions in McKinney. Later, it added productions in Fairview, Frisco, Dallas and Southlake. In 2017, thanks in large part to the fundraising and development efforts Akers collaborated with Rodenbaugh, the theater moved to Willow Bend Center of the Arts.

Plano Children’s Theatre was one of the first places dedicated to putting children on stage. It adopted a casting philosophy that any child could play any role. This included children from diverse backgrounds and those with disabilities.

Akers was one of the first to use drama as a therapy for students with disabilities. It has since become common practice across the country. Today her work continues through NTPA’s Starcatchers troupe, which offers adaptive performing arts programs for students with disabilities.

“North Texas Performing Arts has been a blessing to my life,” Akers said. “Our staff, artists, students and their parents are so very precious to me, and I feel so honored to see this incredible community come together to experience and love the performing arts. I am proud of what we have built and am so thankful to our Governing Board and our CEO for their amazing work and support.”

As part of NTPA’s management succession plan, the organization appointed Patricia Gregory as senior director of development two years ago. She has more than 20 years of development experience.  Her responsibilities now include overseeing NTPA’s fundraising and development efforts.

Akers will continue to serve on NTPA’s governing board of directors. She will also direct and teach, as well as participate in its Arts Advisory Council, the NTPA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force and other efforts.

The NTPA has established the “Sara Egelston Akers Legacy Fund” in her honor. It will provide support for NTPA’s needs-based scholarships, enabling youth from all backgrounds and abilities to have access to the best-in-class performing arts experiences provided.

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. says: Gordon Fox

    I’m pleased to admit that I’ve known Sara for many years now. When she was in her late teens, we were both performing in our church’s production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (Sara was Lucy, I was Charlie). Years later, I helped Sara in PCT’s summer arts program by my teaching graphic art classes, to complement the acting classes. Later I was privileged to play Scrooge in PCT’s production of A Christmas Carol. Sara’s love of working & playing with children truly is inspiring; & I suspect that “retirement” will not really deter Sara from her “first love”.

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