Encore Theatre standing strong

LIMA — The Encore Theatre has been around Lima for 65 years, and board president Karen Finn has worked at the venue since 1987.

But for Finn, putting in the work to keep the nonprofit community theatre running and showcasing local talent for a hungry and dedicated audience is still worth it.

“It’s our playground,” she said. “So we like sharing it. But it gives us an opportunity to do the kind of thing that we love to do, and when you do that, you want to get people involved.”

Community theatres all over the nation are still recovering from the pandemic, and Encore is no exception. In the past year, Finn said the company found some shows are still as popular as ever.

“It doesn’t seem like the audiences have any problem coming out for the Christmas shows,” she said. “And the kids shows are usually well attended. But the audiences are a little slower coming back.”

But this has not stopped the community from driving an effort to improve the theatre, located at the corner of South Shore Drive and Collett Street in Lima, that Finn says is desperately needed.

“We are trying to raise money for a new roof, and actually the community is really helping us with that,” she said. “But we need a lot of money. We had an anonymous friend of the theater who’s donated $25,000 to be matched, so that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. But I think we’re doing a lot compared to other theatres.”

Encore Theatre is officially owned and operated by Amil Teller of Dramatics Inc., a nonprofit based on spelling Lima backward.

Finn said it is important to understand the value of all community theatres.

“I think all community theatres are special because they’re all trying to do the same thing that we are, which is to make a theatre and create a community within,” she said. “We’re really a family in a lot of ways, and even theatres among themselves are families.”

For someone who has been involved with theatre since college, Finn is acutely aware of what they can mean to communities.

“We try to bring exposure to the arts, not just theatre, but music, language and set design too,” she said. “Theatre is kind of a synthesis of a lot of arts together. And this allows the community to be exposed to it and to take part in it because we are the only community theatre in Allen County that produces on a regular basis.”

A full slate of performances the year, beginning with “Outside Mullingar” on stage recently, gives audiences new chances to enjoy what Finn calls a community experience.

“We try to be very friendly, and we don’t ask anyone to dress up and be fancy,” she said. “Being in an audience with other people watching the show, you’re getting the same input as opposed to being in your car and listening to whatever you’re streaming.”

A kids musical based on Disney’s “Descendants” has already finished auditions for a show set for April, but auditions for “The Play That Goes Wrong,” which will premiere in May, are set for March.

“That one is very funny and very physical,” Finn said. “And they’ve actually been working because the set is very complicated, and it actually falls down as the show goes on. “

For anyone interested in joining the cast or crew of any of this year’s performances, Finn had some simple advice: Trust yourself.

“When I started, I thought I would never be on stage, and I just wanted to be backstage,” she said. “And then I started painting, even though I’m not an artist and I never thought I’d be in charge of people. But eventually, I got more courage and auditioned for a show. So it’s a matter of getting your feet wet even if it’s a little bit of time. You’d be surprised at what you can do.”

For more information on the Encore Theatre, to purchase tickets or to get involved as a volunteer, visit amiltellers.org.


Many businesses and organizations started right here in the Lima region, with the goal of making an impact in the region. This year’s Celebrating Our Spirit looks at those trailblazers. Read more stories at LimaOhio.com/tag/spirit.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.