Enjoying an evening at the theatre does not mean you need to travel to New York City and Broadway. Residents of the Valley of the Sun have a unique entertainment venue right here in the heart of North Peoria/Arrowhead.
Located in the high-traffic area of Arrowhead and P83 (adjacent to the Peoria Sports Complex), the Arizona Broadway Theatre, or ABT (AZBroadway.org), offers a total entertainment experience—a one-of-a-kind venue combining quality dining and professional theatre all in one spot.
Meet the ABT Founders
The passion and power behind ABT belong to founders Kiel Klaphake and his wife, Cassandra. After living for years in New York City due to its prime location for theatre performances, the couple grew tired of the hustle and bustle found in big city life.
Following the tragic events of 9/11, the couple decided they’d had enough and wanted to make a big change. Packing up and heading west, they arrived in Peoria in 2002 with a new destiny and dream on their minds.
“The decision to put down roots in Peoria came after exhaustive research and planning that included identifying markets with tremendous population growth and year-round seasonal opportunity, as well as proximity to a robust retirement community filled with entertainment and art-seeking patrons,” says Kiel Klaphake.
The couple created the Arizona Broadway Theatre concept and model from their own creative life experiences.
“Professional theatre is what we know and who we are,” explains Klaphake.
Their experiences with performing on stage for various organizations helped them put together the concept. The pair dreamed of producing high-caliber professional theatre and pulled inspiration from several places to bring the entire idea to fruition.
Realizing a Vision
For the pair, the vision and goal of ABT has always been to deliver a complete entertainment experience for an array of audiences in a one-of-a-kind venue.
"We wanted to provide patrons with a unique, elite dining experience that, combined with unforgettable performances, creates a top-tier entertainment venue,” explains Klaphake.
The building opened on January 3, 2006. It features the main theatre, a 3,000-square-foot kitchen, a welcoming lobby and bar, a multi-purpose banquet space known as The Encore Room, and costume shops.
ABT is also meant to be a spot for performers and others in the theatre industry to explore their creativity or practice their specialty craft.
“We have an immense love for the world of performing arts and wanted to take our experiences and create a strong community in the West Valley," adds Klaphake.
ABT is nationally recognized, but hires local and national talent. They hold those auditions multiple times a year. Cassandra and her casting team also travel to New York City several times yearly to audition talent for the musical theatre seasons.
ABT Gives Back to the Community
Arizona Broadway Theatre is also known for giving back to the community that has given so much to them. As a non-profit, the theatre has various educational resources designated for youth and others in the local community.
“We feature a number of free Master Class opportunities, which are led by professionals from directors and actors to scene designers and costume designers,” shares Klaphake.
Another point of pride for the team is how they focus on community engagement programs and opportunities. They offer volunteer opportunities at the theatre, including ushers, door greeters, lobby decorating during the holidays, and more.
“Our community is what kept us alive during the pandemic and is what continues to keep the theatre healthy and thriving,” says Klaphake.
Programs for West Valley Youth
The opportunities for the community are aimed at more than just adults, as they offer several programs for Valley youth.
“We pride ourselves in creating a learning space for emerging local talent," explains Klaphake. "Many young performers from our Education Programs have taken their first professional bows on stage alongside seasoned New York veteran actors. The practical training they receive and the ability they are offered to observe these established actors is invaluable to creating the next wave of talent.”
The Academy for Young Performers offers summer musical theatre camps for kids ages 7 to 16. There is also a performance troupe, HyRey, an audition-only singing and dancing group for teens aged 13 to 19. The HyRey troupe performs in the Valley and California each summer.
For younger community members, the Theatre for Young Audience has performances geared towards the younger crowd to give them a taste of their first theatre shows.
The fun continues further as theatre patrons have many options outside the stage and the dinner shows. ABT hosts various community events to bring in different audiences throughout the year.
“In the Encore Room, we host Music & Mimosas Sunday brunches featuring local musical artists. We also present Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre shows. Free After-Dark Cabarets are a big hit with the community as they showcase our talent onstage (and sometimes even backstage!). These take place monthly in the lobby after an evening performance," adds Klaphake.
In addition, the theatre team offers its ABT concert series, featuring a variety of tribute bands, including those paying homage to the likes of Aretha Franklin, ABBA, The Eagles, and more. These are held on various Monday evenings throughout the year since those are the only nights they do not have other musical performances.
Catch a Show at ABT
Finishing out the current season at ABT will be a great one with such shows as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, based on the 1988 film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine. Following this show will be The Wizard of Oz, then Disaster!, a new musical comedy featuring many of your favorite disco music hits.
The new 2023-24 season has already been announced, kicking off in October with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, followed by White Christmas, On the Town, the regional premiere of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and concluding with Clue: the Musical, based on the board game.
Full-season subscriptions are available now, with Flex Subscriptions opening soon. Single-show tickets go on sale in August 2023.
We wanted to provide patrons with a unique, elite dining experience that, combined with unforgettable performances, creates a top tier entertainment venue.