June 20th, 2024

FACT Children’s Theater Arrives

by Vanessa Shultze with Fairmont Sentinel

FACT Children’s Theater Arrives

ABOVE: Children, in grades K-2, dance as flies on stage during rehearsal Tuesday afternoon in the Fairmont Opera House Community Theater’s production of ‘The Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly.’ The production is based off a children’s book and directed by Megan Potthoff and Ellen Germain. Assistants include Grace Miller and Olivia Anderson. Performance show time will be 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 21, at First Congregational UCC.

FAIRMONT — Though the historical Fairmont Opera House building is under construction, the community-driven annual children’s K-2 and 3-6 theater production by the Fairmont Opera House (FOH) is returning to Fairmont to bring a creative, lively show to audiences.

The productions will be ‘There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly’ and ‘Law and Order: Nursery Unit’ respectively.

Head Director Megan Potthoff and Assistant Director Ellen Germaine, who traditionally affiliate and direct with Fairmont Opera House Children’s Theatre, are elated to begin another year of theater with brand-new and returning faces on stage. Joining them are Grace Miller (costuming) and Olivia Anderson (stage-hand and coach), who is also experienced with the community theater program, and will join the two directors to contribute to the two successful children’s shows this summer.

“It’s been a more stable transition than I expected,” Potthoff said. “Kids are coming in ready to work. It’s really, really great and everything is contained in one area. There’s so much space.”

Anderson said that she practically ‘grew up’ with the summer theater program, starting with the opera house summer programs as a child. She said that it’s hard to watch the facilities not be used as the home it was built to be, and the children can’t experience the same emotional attachment she garnered in her own experience with the theater. However, the registered children performing this year are excited to be in the program, said the group.

“These kids deserve to grow up and have a place to go to whenever they need. The Fairmont Opera House became a safe place.”Anderson said.


“I’ve had some kids ask, ‘Why are we here?’ and they’re hopeful to go back. The kids are happy to have the opportunity and be in the show, that’s what they’re really looking forward to.”Miller said.“It’s a bittersweet medium, but they’re still really happy to be here.”

Potthoff said the family’s enthusiasm for a show being able to run this year as posed as a light at the end of the tunnel.

Despite the dilemma of no opera house, the directors are delighted with the quantity of children registered in this year’s theater program has increased compared to those who registered the previous year. The directors and staff were also pleased to share that the UCC Church in Downtown Plaza created a perfect atmosphere in place of the theater.

“It’s as homey as it can be,” Miller said with a smile.

Miller regarded the group on board with the theater planning as a very adaptable team of women. Since the beginning of FOH construction last October, problem-solving to ensure theater camps for both children and adults was no simple task. Thanks to UCC and Fairmont High School’s cooperation and generosity, the FOH successfully found a substitute stage to keep actors in the community thriving.

The children’s summer theatre is a part of the FOH’s FACT (Fairmont Area Community Theater) program. For more than 50 years, the FACT program has brought citizens of Martin County together through theatrical arts. Children who register in the children’s theater camp will learn to be comfortable on stage, projection of both voice and appearance, stage etiquette, and immerse themselves in learning games taught by their instructors.

Germain said the rewarding aspect of watching the children evolve with rehearsal and lesson.

“It’s fun to see the kids find a talent they didn’t know they had,” Germain said.

Potthoff said she appreciates the people of the UCC for allowing her to use the vacant space for the children, her husband Blake Potthoff for executing her ideas into action, Megan Marushin’s tenacity, and the team of individuals who have supported her and her directing.

The final rehearsal and performance for There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly will showcase at 5:30 p.m. this Friday. After the performance, the next children’s theater program group (grades 3-6) will begin rehearsing June 24-28.

Our History: 1889-1980’s

Our History: 1889-1980’s

FROM WHENCE WE CAME This brief history is derived from Thomas Arneson’s historic work on the...

How you can help!

The Fairmont Opera House needs your support to repair its roof truss system and preserve our historic facility.  We ask that you give generously to ensure that our institution remains able to provide cultural experiences for generations to come.






Box Office Hours:
9:00am-2:30pm and 1 hour prior to Event

*Doors Open 1 Hour Before Event, House Opens 30 mins Before Event

To sign up for our E-Newsletter Click here!