The Palm Canyon Theatre is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the education of live stage production and the enrichment of the greater Palm Springs community and its visitors. The regional repertory theater company operates primarily with volunteers and produces about 13 Broadway musicals and classic plays each year, plus offers a children’s theatre camp and production. The theatre also hosts a limited number of events for other organizations throughout the year.
Dr. William “Bill” Layne, his wife Sylvia, and their family submitted the winning proposal to the City of Palm Springs for how to repurpose the historic Frances S. Stevens School located at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Alejo Road in Palm Springs, Calif. After extensive renovation, the Palm Canyon Theatre opened its doors in September 1997 with Romberg and Hammerstein’s operetta “A Desert Song.”
The regular main stage season runs from September to May, with a summer performance usually in July. PCT holds six weeks of children’s theater camp in June and July, which culminates with a full-stage production of about 70-100 participants. Students ages 6-18 learn a myriad of elements required to put on a show including singing, dancing, lighting, sound, props, costumes, make-up and more. The theatre is usually dark in August.
PCT incorporates education into every production, hiring professionals as needed to teach aspiring performers and technical crews specialized skills. The theater also offers internships for those looking to expand their education to real world applications.
The Palm Canyon Theatre operates under a board of directors, which still include members of the Layne family:
- William Layne, a.k.a. “Dr. Bill,” Ph.D. from Northwestern University and former chair of the theater department at Morehead State University.
- J.W. Layne, PCT’s volunteer co-artistic director; technical director of the theater department at College of the Desert, with a Master in Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.
- Se Layne, classically trained singer, dancer, and actress with a Master in Fine Arts from Michigan State University; PCT’s volunteer co-artistic director and theatre teacher at College of the Desert.
- Mike Layne, an accomplished actor, founding board member and instrumental in establishing PCT.
PCT also has a small part-time staff and about 600 volunteers, which include on-stage and off-stage talent. The theatre opens casting calls several times a year to people of all experience levels. In designing the season’s lineup, the PCT team is thoughtful to ensure that parts for actors of various ages are available throughout the season. For those not looking for a role on center stage, PCT is always looking for volunteers of all skill levels and abilities for a variety of responsibilities behind the scenes including ushers, costumes, painting, set building, lighting and more.
PCT’s casts and technical crews earn honors each year for the theater’s well-rounded line-up. In 2014, Dr. Layne received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Desert Theatre League. In 2015, the Layne Family was honored with the 382nd star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, placed directly in front of the theater.
PCT has been the recipient of generous gifts throughout the years, which have enhanced the overall experience for both audiences and actors. Grants have been presented from the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, Harold Matzner, and the Palm Springs Cultural Center, which was formed by Ric and Rozene Supple. As a nonprofit organization, tax-deductible gifts are always appreciated. Sponsorships and program advertising are available.
The Palm Canyon Theatre is centrally located in the beautiful Uptown Design District of Palm Springs, 538 North Palm Canyon Drive, at the corner of Alejo and N. Palm Canyon Drive, across from Koffi. For more information, visit www.palmcanyontheatre.org or call the Palm Canyon Theatre Box Office at 760-323-5123. Box Office Hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m.