The Pender Community Theater was started in 1993 as a fundraiser for the Heritage Museum of Thurston County. The musical Tumbleweeds was chosen as the first production, and was directed by LeAnn Spangler and Gail Brondum. The cast included thirty-three community members and the production was held at Pender Legion Hall. Three performances were held with two being Friday and Saturday evening dinner theaters and the final being a Sunday afternoon matinee. After the 1994 production, the Heritage Museum decided not to continue sponsorship of the theater.
The response from the community had been very positive, so the directors and cast members decided to continue to plan, practice and perform. Annual performances have been held in the spring of each year since 1993. The group named themselves “The Best Little Playhouse in Pender” and the actors referred to themselves as “The Pender Pretenders.” Over the years the group has performed both plays and musicals. They have earned a reputation for choosing little known comedy scripts and dramatically overacting their character parts. (We can’t choose a play anybody knows because by the time we perform it, the play may be “slightly” different than the original script). The Pretenders routinely change lines in the play to refer to people, places and events in the community. Out-of-town attendees often scratch their heads while the local people are laughing at the inside jokes. “Anything for a laugh” is the Pretenders’ motto and they prove it every year.
Productions continue to be held at the Legion Hall. In 1997 the Playhouse members with the cooperation of the American Legion removed the small stage in the northeast corner of the dance floor and built a new stage that stretches across most of the north end of the dance floor.
All proceeds from the productions have been donated back to the community and the group also sponsors scholarships for high school seniors who are pursuing further education and careers in the fine arts.
The Best Little Playhouse in Pender would like to take this opportunity to thank all the directors and cast members, American Legion, the businesses of Pender and Thurston, and all of the people who have attended our productions. Thank you for your loyal support, may we continue to be worthy to receive it.