Poway Performing Arts Company (PowPAC)
Poway Performing Arts Company Past & Present
San Diego County is known nationwide as a theatre Mecca, with dozens of theatres ranging from tiny storefront houses to the renowned Old Globe. Poway's contribution to this cultural feast is its award-winning community theatre, Poway Performing Arts Company (PowPAC). PowPAC's story is reminiscent of a Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney musical. In 1979 the city needed to raise funds to establish the Poway Fire Department's paramedic program. 'Hey kids, let's put on a show!' So in May of that year, some civic-minded residents put together a vaudeville show, the first Firemen's Follies. Its success led to a second Follies the following year.
Recognizing a need in the community, several of the participants came together in the spring of 1981 and formed PowPAC, a non-profit community theatre dedicated to staging inexpensive, quality entertainment. President Karen Vasquez led a small band that included long-time Poway residents John and Kay Heinen, Diana Smith, Barbara Seagren, Peggy Maki, and Danny Morris. PowPAC debuted with Vaudeville, Another Encore Please at the Poway Community Center. The Community Center also hosted PowPAC's first foray into drama, Thornton Wilde's classic Our Town. There were two more revues that included old fashioned melodramas, How the West Was Fun, Parts I and II, held at Twin Peaks School and Tierra Bonita School respectively. Finding venues became difficult, and PowPAC went dark in 1983-84 while seeking a permanent home.
Diana Smith, who taught dance and gymnastics at Golden West Academy, agreed to lease the 71-seat theatre to PowPAC in 1984. Unfortunately, problems at the theatre caused the Fire Marshall to shut it down one week before PowPAC's inaugural performance of You Can't Take It with You. The show went on, but on a hastily constructed stage in the parking lot. Fortunately, the building's problems were speedily fixed and PowPAC had a home. Since 1984, PowPAC has offered fare covering the theatrical spectrum. Comedies such as Cactus Flower and Blithe Spirit alternate with dramas including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Doll's House. Traditional entertainment (Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol) and mysteries (Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced) prove particularly popular, as do musicals (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown). One production, Getting Away with Murder was written by local author, Janet Tiger.
PowPAC is known for challenging the accepted boundaries of community theatre by offering productions of controversial scripts, including Michael Cristofer's The Shadow Box and Marsha Norman's 'Night, Mother. The theatre's growth has been recognized annually at the Associated Community Theatre's Aubrey Awards, most significantly in 1994, when PowPAC's riveting Angel Street was named Best Drama. Community is of prime importance to PowPAC's members. They set up a scholarship fund for drama students from the area's three high schools. PowPAC contributed to the establishment of the new Center for the Performing Arts, as well as staging three performances of The Dining Room at the Center during its Opening Week Gala. By 1994, from a vagabond troupe of stage-struck citizens had come a distinguished theatre with fans from as far as Ramona, La Mesa and Chula Vista. The 1995-96 season was PowPAC's most ambitious yet. In January 1996 PowPAC moved to the Lively Center on Poway Road. Where it continues to provide top-class live entertainment for its loyal and growing following.