Marey Bishop and Collin Kreuzer founded the Academy of Performing Arts in 1995. In a Deseret News column, Lee Benson described them as “a pair of University of Utah drama products who graduated to the usual City Rep circuit. They thought they might act forever until they looked up one morning and the harsh light of reality delivered the 'Get a job' line. They realized they couldn't possibly leave the theater. Could not bear it. So they started their Academy.”
The Academy's training facility at 4771 South State Street had a stage “roughly the same size as a Hummer,” with seating for an audience of only 40 – not even enough for both parents of every student. Performances were later moved to the nearby Murray Theatre. In May 1999, however, the owner of the Murray Theatre entered bankruptcy and the bank closed the theater down. The Academy, with costumes set for a big stage production of “Snow White,” was given only three days notice.
The Academy of Performing Arts moved to the Lighthouse Theatre at the south end of Cottonwood Mall, but were told in January 2000 to vacate that location as well. In a letter to the Deseret News, Sally Meyer pleaded, “Surely there is someone out there in the community who cares enough about the youth of our community. Is there someone out there who could sponsor this acting school and help the school find a permanent home and stage?”
In July 2000, the Academy of Performing Arts performed “The Tempest” at the Liberty Wells Center at 700 South 400 East as a fund-raiser to help cover costs of a 24 July 2000 performance at the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City. The Academy performed at the Festival in 1999 and was invited back as part of a week long showcase of performances by children from schools in the region. Some of the Academy's students came from low-income families and were struggling to pay their travel and lodging expenses.[2 & 3]
On 1 May 2001, the Academy of Performing Arts held auditions for “Romeo and Juliet” at the Old Farm Community Center, 601 E. 4110 South. The play was to be performed on 23 July 2001 at the third annual Utah Shakespearean Festival Children's Showcase.
“The Jungle Book” opened on 27 May 2004 at The Mark Studio, 3188 South 400 East. The production was a collaboration between the Academy of Performing Arts, the TOA Theatre Company, and The Mark Studio. By October 2005, the Academy of Performing Arts seemed to be the only group active at that location.
In March 2006, burglars pried open a door at the Academy of Performing Arts and stole a $1,000 sound system, a $600 camcorder, two computers, and hundreds of dollars in cash and credit card receipts, and even candy from the concession stand.
In May 2007, the Academy Theatre Company, a performing group allied with the Academy of Performing Arts, sent an e-mail indicating the company may be forced to close if attendance and support didn't improve. The Academy held a fund-raiser yard sale on 23 June 2007.
The Academy of Performing Arts continued to perform at their location at 3188 South 400 East through at least January 2008. In December 2008, they presented “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” at the Sorenson Unity Center. Developer Steve Aste offered to lease the Academy warehouse space in South Salt Lake at a reduced rate, but the Academy would have to raise money to build a theater inside. The warehouse was scheduled to be torn down in two years, but Aste was willing to build a permanent theater nearby if the Academy could pay for a long-term lease.
In February 2009, actor David Dunard taught a class in public speaking at the Academy of Performing Arts, now at 2207 South Main Street. In May 2010, the Academy performed “The Little Mermaid” at the same location, but in December 2010 they presented "The Other Wiseman" and "The Little Match Girl" at 1140 South 900 East.
As early as March 2010, the Academy of Performing Arts joined with the Extravadance Studio at 8527 South Welby Farm Road. On merchantcircle.com, they announced, “Extravadance Studio is proud to announce their newly expanded curriculum of performing arts classes in partnership with Collin Kreuzer and The Academy of Performing Arts.” An eight week course for children eight through sixteen was to provide training in acting and character development, vocal technique for singing, and creative stage movement and dance.
By April 2011, Extravadance Studio had moved to 8524 S Welby Farm Road. Their web site makes no mention of the Academy of Performing Arts and the the Academy's web site, academyofpa.org, is no longer active. The most recent update on the Academy's MySpace page appears to be in March 2010.
1. “Acting troupe has everything but a theater”, Deseret News, 21 May 1999, page B1
2. “Theater school needs home”, Deseret News, 6 March 2000, page A10
3. “'Tempest' fund-raiser”, Deseret News, 19 July 2000, page C7
4. “Auditions set for 2 theater companies”, Deseret News, 24 April 2001
5. “'Jungle Book' among shows opening”, Deseret News, 23 May 2004
6. “Calendar”, Deseret News, 7 October 2005
7. “Burglars Hit Struggling Community Theater”, KUTV News, 9 March 2006
8. “StageRight hoping to locate a permanent home by fall”, Deseret Morning News, 6 May 2007
9. “Fund-raiser yard sale”, Deseret News, 22 June 2007
10. “Theater deserves listing”, Deseret News, 21 January 2008
11. “Theater group may find new home in South Salt Lake”, Deseret News, 1 December 2008
12. “Auditions”, Deseret News, 25 February 2009
13. “Weekly Utah events calendar”, Deseret News, 21 May 2010
14. Utah events calendar, Deseret News, 23 December 2010
15. “The Academy of Performing Arts and Extravadance studio”, merchantcircle.com, April 2011
16. http://www.extravadancestudio.com/, April 2011