Olathe Community Theatre Association began with a $1,000 grant from the Olathe Parks & Recreation Department in 1973. OCTA produced shows at various locations throughout Olathe, including the Chester Street Shopping Center basement and Millbrooke Junior High (now the Vo-Tech school).
In July 1977, OCTA purchased the Reformed Presbyterian Church, built in 1870. In November 1977, shortly after the first production of Arsenic and Old Lace in the newly-christened Buddy Rogers Playhouse, the Fire Marshall closed the building for 22 code violations. The building remained closed until November 1980 when it reopened after extensive renovation.
Disaster hit the theatre in 1982 when vandals set fire to the basement causing $80,000 in damage to the basement and lobby, including destruction of the original stained glass windows. In 1983, the theatre reopened with a refurbished lobby and basement, and restored stained glass windows.
Since 1980, the original church pews were replaced with theater seats, the lighting and sound systems have been upgraded, the parking lot paved, and the basement remodeled with task lighting and additional restrooms. Further capital improvements included adding air conditioning in 1990, allowing year-round productions, and a new roof in 1999.
In the summer of 2008, OCTA was the recipient of a grant to maintain our historical building and both the interior and exterior of the building was repainted, giving OCTA a much needed face-lift.
Through the generosity of our volunteers, season ticket holders, donors, city and community, in addition to our dedicated Board of Directors, OCTA has grown into one of the most successful and progressive community theaters in the entire Kansas City metropolitan area.
Charles ’Buddy’ Rogers was born in Olathe, Kansas on August 13th, 1904 to Maude and Bert Rogers. He graduated from Olathe High School and the University of Kansas. He was interested in music, athletics, and the theater. After moving to California, he trained to be an actor at the Paramount Picture School. Buddy was groomed for stardom and started appearing in silent films by the mid-1920’s. He was in two big hits right away: "Fascinating Youth" (1926), his first film, and the other "Wings" (1927), co-starring Clara Bow. "Wings" was the first feature film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture. In 1927 Buddy met Mary Pickford, when they were cast together for a sweet, romantic film called "My Best Girl" (1927). Their off-screen relationship turned romantic as well, but Mary tried to hold her marriage together with Douglas Fairbanks and succeeded for several more years. However, by 1936 Mary and Doug were divorced, and in 1937 Buddy Rogers married Mary Pickford.
Respected by his peers for his work in film and for his humanitarianism, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored Rogers in 1985 with The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. He also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A longtime resident and benefactor of California’s Coachella Valley, Rogers was honored by having a children’s symphony orchestra he and second wife, Beverley Ricondo, a real estate agent he married in 1981, helped found named after him. A street in Cathedral City, California is named after him as well.
Buddy Rogers died in Rancho Mirage, California in 1999 at the age of 94 of natural causes, and was interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery (Cathedral City) near Palm Springs, California.
President - Ted Collins
Vice President - Deborah Buckner
Secretary - Connie Richards
Treasurer - D.K. Evenson
Public Relations - Shelly Stewart
Ways & Means - TBA
Historian - Don Leonard
House Manager - Bekah Grieb
Production Manager - Larry Goodman
Production Manager - Philip Leonard
Buddy Awards - Peter Leondedis
Building Manager - TBA
Play Reading - Ellie DeShon
Web Design - Ryan Ewing