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Style Magazine

Sutter Street Theatre

May 31, 2010 05:00PM ● By Style

Photo by Dante Fontana

Founders of the Performing & Fine Arts Academy at Natomas Charter School, Connie Mockenhaupt and Mike Jimena, have always followed their passion for the arts via many outlets.

Adding to their successes in the art world, three years ago, the couple decided to open a theatre offering something for everyone in the community.

Located on Sutter Street in the heart of Folsom’s Historic District, Sutter Street Theatre (formerly Stage Nine Theatre) offers three types of performances; the Off Broadway Series features plays and musicals; the Young People’s Theatre performs shorter shows; and the third series of performance showcases the talent of seniors. In addition to a plethora of performance styles, there’s also something going on 52 weeks a year at Sutter Street Theatre. This year’s Off Broadway Series includes 10 different shows on the ticket. Some run for six weeks while others will only be featured two weeks. General auditions are held in the fall, then a separate audition for each show is held as well.

Owner Mockenhaupt holds multiple degrees in music, dance and drama. She has directed, performed, choreographed and musically directed over 400 different productions. She has spent much of her professional life in education, teaching and creating new and innovative programs like the Sutter Street Theatre Academy that is directly behind Sutter Theatre. The Academy provides a wide range of learning opportunities for both casual and committed artists from age five to 95. It offers ongoing courses for dance, acting, improvisation, singing and painting. In the summer they will offer week-long creative art camps for all ages. “I have always loved theatre,” Mockenhaupt says. “I can remember putting on productions for all of the neighbors when I was really young. I think I like the energy and excitement that goes into theatre.”

Jimena is a member of SAG and has been featured in commercials, print ads, and theatre productions not only at Sutter Theatre but also at various theatres throughout the Sacramento region. He is also an award-winning set and lighting designer and his company, MIKON Productions, designs and builds sets for theatres across Northern California.

The two masterminds are both the managing and artistic directors for the Sutter Street Arts Complex. The couple believes it is very important for people to have a place to come where they can be entertained and lose their troubles for a while. According to the founders, customers leave happy, partially because of the intimate atmosphere that a small theatre has to offer. “An atmosphere of creative freedom is key to bringing an excellent entertainment experience to audiences, and Sutter Street Theatre has that freedom,” says Allen Schmeltz, Sutter Street Theatre Artistic Associate Director, and Instructor.

Mockenhaupt says the audience is increasing. The house is up 39 percent over last year and it is selling out on a consistent basis. It is recommended that people call ahead to reserve seats. “The community has been very supportive of the theatre,” Mockenhaupt says. Last year Sutter Theatre was awarded with the highest number of nominations and wins at the annual Elly Awards; higher than any other theatre in the region. Their future plans include maintaining a high-quality theatre experience to add more performances, eventually growing into a larger theatre.

Performances in the Off Broadway Series are at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday matinees start at 4 p.m. Performances in the Young People’s Series are Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Special performances run on Thursday and Sunday Evenings.

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