Local man starts up community theater program

The Sunflower Repertory is a new community theater experience happening in Peabody. The theatre is run by Peabody’s Christopher King who has directed, produced and performed in stage plays and musicals for over 35 years.

Christopher King, of Peabody, loves theater because he loves to tell stories.

“That’s honestly my love of arts. It comes from a love of wanting to tell stories. My favorite thing is to direct shows about history and our past and love—the stories of just human beings in general,” said King.

King has been working in theater for most of his life.

“I’ve acted, directed and produced all types of shows and from everywhere—from Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia and more,” said King.

He grew up in eastern Kansas in Bonner Springs.

“Everyone knows where it’s at now. But that’s funny because when I lived in Bonner, no one knew where Bonner Springs was. It was all dirt roads. And I grew up next to a dairy farm,” said King.

After high school, King moved out to the East Coast to further his career. In all, he has been in the business for over 35 years.

King started as an actor but evolved into being a director and producer.

“I don’t need that much attention that an actor needs. I wanted to tell stories,” said King.

He eventually returned to Kansas and moved to Peabody with partner Jonathan where he opened up CK Vintage.

“I’ve never really seen myself as a city person. But I remember back when I first started doing theater, there weren’t places to be employed here,” said King. “Now someone can graduate, have a theater degree and go work in Branson. There’s plenty of work in Kansas City. There are even small, tourist towns across the Midwest that do those fight and sound shows. So there’s lots of stuff to do now that wasn’t available back in my climb up in theater,” said King.

Now that he is settled into life in Peabody, he is ready to return to his stage roots and is starting the Sunflower Repertory, a community theater experience located in Peabody.

“This kind of ties in with the Sunflower Theatre that’s being renovated. They just finished the asbestos removal which cost around $60,000. But they finally opened the whole thing up, so you can see what it used to look like inside. And it’s just amazing. It’s just fascinating to walk in there,” said King.

Sunflower Theatre will be finished in three years and will have a professional kitchen and retractable seating for both audience style and dinner theater. It will also have an orchestra pit. King will eventually run his program out of the remodeled theater.

“But in the meantime, I’m trying to get it started through the Lutheran church here, which has a wonderful space next to their sanctuary that’s big. And the acoustics are incredible. They’re going to allow me to turn that into a little theater,” said King.

The first show is about to get started with auditions happening on June 14 and 15 for ‘Miracle Worker’.

King also already has a show in mind for Christmas about Laura Ingalls Wilder. He also has a couple of other musicals already planned for next year.

He is mostly excited about the community aspect of it all.

“We will have adults working with seniors, kids, teenagers, etc. because in a lot of our communities, there’s such a divide between the generations right now. But once they have a communal experience like this, they get to know each other as people which actually helps the cohesion of a community. And that’s why arts are so important,” said King.

In addition to needing people to fill actor roles, King could use more help.

“We also have openings for the crew. We need help with building, sewing, painting, lighting and more. And if people just want to donate some money, we need that, too,” said King. “

Those interested do not have to have experience.

“I love working with amateurs. One of my favorite things to do is to help people learn and grow and be able to put on a solid, great show, because in the end, that’s what’s important. If we want to charge people money to come see a show, it better be good,” said King.

King said the Sunflower Repertory would not be possible without help from others.

“We are so grateful to the Sunflower Theatre and their board for helping us realize this,” said King. “And we are immensely grateful to St. Paul’s church, because they’ve pretty much given us carte blanche to come in and create a theater and a space for the community to come. We are so excited.”

To learn more about King’s career, check out his website at kingtheater.weebly.com. If you are interested in being a part of Sunflower Repertory, visit their Facebook page or contact King at 620-518-2796 or email him at chriskingks@gmail.com.

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