Olathe Civic Theatre Association began as the Olathe Community Theatre Association with a $1,000 grant from Olathe Parks & Recreation Department in 1973 to produce live theatre by and for local community members. Without a permanent theatre home, 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, for $33,450. In November 1977, shortly after the first production in the newly-christened Buddy Rogers Family Playhouse (named for silent film star and former Olathean Buddy Rogers who helped procure the building), Arsenic and Old Lace, the Fire Marshall closed the building for code violations. The building remained closed for three years until November 1980 when it reopened after extensive renovation.
Disaster hit the theatre in again 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 have been 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. Air conditioning was added in 1990, allowing for year-round productions and special events, 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.
In 2013 the group officially changed its d.b.a name to the Olathe Civic Theatre Association to better reflect the breadth and caliber of the theatre experience it provides.
Currently (2017-18), the building is undergoing a number of critical repairs and upgrades including repairs to the foundation, interior painting and wall/ceiling repairs, carpet replacement, wood floor refinishing, and replacement of the handrails on the outer stairs (winter 2017). Exterior painting/siding, parking lot replacement, HVAC unit replacements, and more will happen in summer 2018.
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 community theaters in the Kansas City metropolitan area.