Sara Egelston Akers and Darrell Rodenbaugh

Sara Egelston Akers and Darrell Rodenbaugh Darrell Rodenbaugh and Sara Egelston Akers have led the Plano Children’s Theatre together for nearly 10 years.[/caption]

Sara Egelston Akers’ mission to provide a fun and professional theatrical outlet for children and young adults has not waivered since she founded the Plano Children’s Theatre in 1991.

But thanks to the help of a growing number of supporters like board President Darrell Rodenbaugh, the executive director has been able to expand the theater’s outreach to neighboring cities.

Collectively rebranded as North Texas Performing Arts, the theater reached a milestone this year when it reorganized its internal governing structure to independently strengthen its youth theaters in Plano, Frisco and McKinney.

In July, the theater also announced a new theatre academy under its new name. The academy offers instruction in acting, voice and dance at each of its three locations.

With plans to open a branch in Southlake, Akers and Rodenbaugh have developed a friendship rooted in the desire to help children find their talents through the art of expression.

“This is the next logical step for us. It’s really difficult for someone from Southlake to come all the way here for rehearsals,” Akers said. “[The city] is very welcoming to us and it’s very exciting.”

Sara Egelston Akers


Akers founded the Plano Children’s Theatre with a donation of $1,500 and the help of three fellow founding board members. Classes took place at Grace Presbyterian Church in Plano and saw 50 students during the first season. Three years later, the group moved to its current location at 1301 Custer Road and added a black box theater, rehearsal rooms and administrative offices.

PCT has produced more than 50 productions featuring children ages 6 to 18 this year, and those who have helped the organization flourish have always kept quality scripts and education at the forefront of the mission, Akers said. Although she is a little nervous about the next chapter, Akers looks forward to focusing on grant writing, the funds from which the theater greatly depends upon.

“It’s a little hard to let go because I was the one who made sure things had gotten paid and things were ready to go,” she said. “I went and bought lumber for the shows. It’s a little difficult, I tell ya.”

The restructuring includes the creation of individual management boards for each city and an overall governing board of directors. An advisory board consists of Akers’ sister and other local professionals. In total, Akers and Rodenbaugh filled 60 new positions within 45 days for the boards.
“We’re both very strong-minded. He’s a dear, dear friend of mine and a confidant. He can spin the dream.”

—Sara Egleston Akers, founder, Plano Children's Theatre

“We’re thinking of it as a school district’s model and Sara is the superintendent. Curriculum and programs are the same in each city, and there is a principal at each and the board is like the school board,” Rodenbaugh said. “That’s kind of what we modeled ourselves like and it has worked well.”

Darrell Rodenbaugh


Serving his fourth term as board president, Rodenbaugh has been involved in the PCT for roughly 10 years. His children were students there several years ago, and he credits the theater for helping them overcome their inhibitions. Today, his son, Chris, has been recognized by the Dallas Observer as one of the top performers in Dallas.

“[My daughter] struggled with reading, and we struggled with giving her a passion and a reason to read,” Rodenbaugh said. “That’s why we’re so devoted to this because this organization taught her the importance of reading. I saw the magic of this place through the eyes of my own kids.”

Having worked for McAfee, a computer security software company, as vice president of global midmarket operations, Rodenbaugh said the transition from the corporate world to nonprofit arena benefited him professionally as well.

“I was much less forgiving at McAfee,” he said. “What I learned is the patience to allow [people] to do the right thing.”

So, after all these years together, what has helped make the duo so successful?

“A lot of margaritas,” Sara said with a laugh. “We’re both very strong-minded. He’s a dear, dear friend of mine and a confidant. He can spin
the dream.”

“There’s [also] a lot of trust. The heart and soul is still here [in Plano] and that heart and soul is still Sara,” Rodenbaugh said. “At the end of the day, I know … she wants the very best for our kids and the very best for this organization.”
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

Victory Lane Quick Oil Change opened in October under the ownership of Jim Oberhofer. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Drag racing crew chief returns to Plano with Victory Lane Quick Oil Change

Victory Lane Quick Oil Change opened in October under the ownership of Jim Oberhofer, crew chief and vice president of operations for Kalitta Motorsports, a champion drag racing team.

SizzleIt opened Dec. 7 in Plano. (Courtesy SizzleIt)
Plano's SizzleIt offers unique Asian-American foods

SizzleIt opened Dec. 7 at 1820 Coit Road, Ste. 138, Plano.

A camp hosted by Outcry Theatre is one of dozens of spring and summer camps offered in Plano this year. (Courtesy Outcry Theatre)
31 activities for kids: A list of spring and summer camps in Plano

A noncomprehensive list of spring and summer camps for children in Plano.

Eliseo Figueroa opened Lima Taverna in 2017 across from the former Macy’s location at Collin Creek Mall in Plano. (Daniel Houston/Community Impact Newspaper)
Owner of Plano's Lima Taverna restaurant shares love for Peruvian cuisine, culture

The restaurant serves dishes ranging from marinated fish served with Peruvian sides to a stir-fry made with beef tenderloin.

Level III ballet students take part in stretches during class. Before reaching Level IV, students must master technical skills and prove their physical and mental focus, according to the academy's syllabus. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
'The art of ballet': Couple runs Plano studio with focus on performance

Hathaway Academy of Ballet is all about the fundamentals and principles of ballet technique, according to Kirt Hathaway, who runs the studio with his wife, Linda.

Market data: Plano home prices rise in December in all but one ZIP code

See the latest Plano housing market statistics in this infographic.

A new Plano police substation will be completed this spring at the southwest corner of McDermott Road and Robinson Road. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plano police, fire gear up to prepare for growth in changing northwest Plano

Plano police and fire departments have improved their response times in recent years even as they handle a rising number of calls from a growing city population.

The Shops at Willow Bend is continuing with a $125 million expansion project that includes the mall's now-open restaurant district. (Daniel Houston/Community Impact Newspaper)
Developer stays course in Willow Bend mall expansion following prominent departures, late payment

The owner behind a multimillion-dollar project to expand Plano’s only remaining indoor shopping mall is looking to extend and restructure its financing as it prepares for a new stage of office and residential construction.

The district has lost roughly 1,900 students in the last four years, according to a presentation at a  Feb. 18 work session, and the trend is expected to continue. (Gavin Pugh/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plano ISD enrollment expected to continue dropping in next decade

Enrollment at Plano ISD is expected to continue to decline in the next decade, according to a report from a Feb. 18 work session.

A proposed construction project at Williams High School may cost roughly $14 million and be financed via remaining funds from Plano ISD’s 2016 bond. Members of the Plano ISD board of trustees were given a tour of Williams High School at a work session Sept. 17. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Plano ISD focuses on possible $14 million project for Williams High School

A proposed construction project at Williams High School may cost roughly $14 million and be financed via remaining funds from Plano ISD’s 2016 bond.

Texas Central officials announced interior plans Feb. 17 for the company's proposed high-speed train connecting Houston and Dallas. The Shinkansen trains in Japan will be customized for Texas with no middle seats and additional legroom, company officials announced. (Courtesy Texas Central)
JUST IN: Texas Central gives first glimpse of high-speed train car interior

Texas Central officials announced interior plans Feb. 17 for the company's proposed high-speed train connecting Houston and Dallas.

Back to top