Ovation Theatre aims to make local splash


Encinitas husband and wife team Pamela Laurent and Scott Gregory want to grow youth theater locally, so last year they created the nonprofit Ovation Theatre.

A major part of their mission is to welcome students of all levels in order to train the next generation of singers, actors and performers.

“There used to be two or three theater companies in Encinitas, and they’ve faded away,” Gregory said. “So we’re really looking forward to being a big part of the community.”

The couple started the for-profit North County School of the Arts eight years ago, and they said launching Ovation Theatre was the next logical step. Being a nonprofit, it notably gets a discounted rate when renting out space for productions.

Laurent said while their Ovation shows are geared toward youth, they’re still family affairs.

“We’ve been able to have entire families in our shows,” she said, noting prior to Ovation Theatre, their production of “Annie” had eight family members plus their dog.

Currently, Ovation doesn’t have its own theatre, but that’s a goal down the line. For the foreseeable future, they’ll put on shows throughout North County, with as many as possible in Encinitas.

On that note, Ovation is hosting Guys and Dolls Night from 7 to 10 p.m. on Feb. 20 at the Encinitas Library. It will feature performances from the cast of Ovation’s upcoming production of “Guys and Dolls,” along with numbers from their current and former students. It’s a free event with donations welcome.

The couple met in 1988 while touring with the same opera company and, after that, went to Europe together. They were lucky enough to both land roles in a German production of “Phantom of the Opera.”

Besides Ovation, they run a voice lessons business called The Voice Studio.

Gregory serves as the music director of theater shows, while Laurent is the artistic director. The couple said they don’t always see eye-to-eye on the finer points of a script, but they always work through any disagreements. “In the end we want the same thing, but may go about it differently,” Laurent said.

Past students have gone on to perform at venues like The Old Globe and North Coast Repertory Theater. After leading so many productions, they’ve seen how beneficial theater is for young minds, no matter their career path. “They gain so much confidence and the ability to lead,” Gregory said.

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