Nibley keeps community theater
play cops in the Nibley Children's Theate production
of Pirates of Penzance. / Photo courtesy of Bonnie
February 16, 2009 | NIBLEY -- Every summer, hundreds
of children from Nibley are busy donning costumes, memorizing
lines and singing songs. They are preparing for the
annual children's play performed during the Nibley Heritage
What they take part in is something quite unique;
a play mostly performed by children. The Nibley Children's
Theatre is a volunteer-based theater company founded
in 1983 by Jessie Datwyler. Datwyler, a resident of
Nibley at the time, directed the plays for over 20 years
until 2005 when she moved to Smithfield.
Since then, a few different people have taken turns
running the company. The current director is Bonnie
Over the years, the play has been performed at the
Old City Park at 325 W. 3200 South. The company first
started out by renting a stage from Hyrum. Eventually,
Nibley city built an amphitheater where the play is
performed. Schenk-Darrington said a backdrop was added
in 2007 and plays get better and more professional each
The Nibley Children's Theatre has a fairly strict
budget; with $1,500 being their limit, Schenk-Darrington
and others volunteer hundreds of hours to keep costs
Although some children audition for the play, many
can sign up without auditioning. Schenk-Darrington said
the company tries to stick to fairy tales and classics
because copyrights can be costly.
"The point is to get them on stage and let them be
the star for a moment," said Schenk-Darrington. She
mentioned that 142 children and 51 adult volunteers
were involved in last year's production of "Pirates
of Penzance." The number of children involved in the
company's first production was 20, with five adults,
and the number has increased every year. Volunteers
sign up to sew costumes and each child involved is usually
asked to provide a few basic items that can help with
wardrobes, such as white shirts and tights.
Schenk-Darrington has volunteered in these children's
plays for quite a few years now. She said she became
involved as a child and was on and off throughout the
years. In 2007, she was assistant director to Sandra
Larkin and eventually took over position as director
a year later.
Schenk-Darrington said although at times it can be
stressful, it is "very gratifying" to her. Growing up
as a child, she said there were fewer ways that children
could express themselves and be involved. Once she became
a part of the plays, she said she found where she belonged.
"It gave me self-confidence," she said. "I wasn't
afraid to get up on stage." While others seemed to be
excelling at other activities such as sports, Schenk-Darrington
said that being in theater helped her to realize her
talents. She also added that some adults that are currently
volunteering were in the plays when they were younger.
She said there is always "a lot of reminiscing" about
their experiences in the performances as children.
"I'm hoping to give kids these memories," she said,
adding that she has noticed a change in her own daughter's
self-confidence from being involved. Being involved
in the play "jump-started creativity" for her child.
"I think it still makes a difference in their lives,"
she said. "It gives kids a home."
This year's performance will be "The Goose Girls"
by the Brothers Grimm and it is scheduled to appear
on June 18 and 19 at the Old City Park on 325 W. 3200