This summer, song and dance are once again filling the Capitol Theater, which served as a home to vaudeville as well as film when it opened in 1924.
Thursday, the lights came up on “Hairspray,” Apple Tree Productions’ first community theater musical with a cast of adults and teens.
The theater, home to the Olympia Film Society, hasn’t hosted a theater group since Capital Playhouse did productions there in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Apple Tree’s summer theater program is happening in the theater, which means rehearsals five days a week and performances for the next four weekends.
“It’s so great to hear kids singing in the theater,” Audrey Henley, the film society’s executive director, said last week. “I love hearing it, even if they’re just going through the scales. It’s like the theater is alive.”
Apple Tree Productions director Heidi Fredericks feels as though she’s come home. Sitting in a greenroom on the theater’s upper level, she said she began performing with the now-defunct Capital Playhouse’s Kids at Play program in 1987, when she was 12 years old.
“It’s the same carpet as when I was a kid,” she said.
She said she’s also excited to be holding programs downtown again. Apple Tree’s summer programs had been rehearsing at Family Education and Support Services on the west side and performing at Tumwater High School. FESS is remodeling this summer, and the school has remodeling planned for next summer, so it was the perfect time to make a change.
Fredericks is excited to have everything happening in one location, too.
“It’s great to rehearse where we perform, and performing in a working theater is a really different experience than we’d had in our program before,” she said. “It’s been really fun, and the kids are just so excited.”
Film society members are excited, too, Henley said, though the collaboration means fewer screening times during Apple Tree’s summer season.
But the shows Apple Tree is doing have all been films. “It’s really serendipity that our season was chosen that way,” Fredericks said.
In fact, “Hairspray” started out as a film, the 1988 John Waters cult favorite, which inspired a 2002 Broadway musical. It then returned to the big screen in 2007.
“People are like, ‘I’ve always wanted to see a live production of “Hairspray,” ’ ” Henley said. “Our members have an interest in that screen-to-stage and stage-to-screen aspect of what’s being produced.”
“Hairspray,” with a cast of actors ages 14 and older, stars Harrison Fry, frequently seen in Olympia Family Theater shows, as Edna Turnblad, the role played by Divine in the 1988 film. Other familiar faces in the cast include George Dougherty and Stephanie Nace.
Fredericks is considering adding another musical with adult actors to Apple Tree’s school year schedule. Last year, the company produced three all-city musicals during the year in addition to the ones it does for local schools.
“After the playhouse closed, there were several of us who were very good friends who wanted to work together on an adult production,” she said. “It seems like there’s a lot of interest.
“One of the great things about running your own production company is you can do what you want to do,” she added. “It’s been scary and exciting and really fun.”
While Apple Tree’s shows are running, the film society has added two film screenings on Mondays, when the theater is normally dark, as well as a Tuesday matinee. The live-theater schedule still allows time for some weekend special events.
“It’s a change,” Henley said, “but it’s back to what the theater used to be when there were live performances.”
Apple Tree Productions, a youth musical theater program, presents its first community theater musical with a cast of adults and teens.
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 3:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia
Tickets: $15 general admission, $12 for students, seniors and Olympia Film Society members; available at olympiafilmsociety.org and at the door
More information: 360-359-6685, appletreeprod.com