Introducing the San Miguel Theater Company

By Mark Saunders

Floor Plan

A new performing arts center is to open, designed to benefit actors and audiences.With 38 years as a professional actor in the US and Canada, and a Ph.D in Theater Arts, Jim Newell knows theater — front stage and back. Leveraging his experience and knowledge, Jim recently started the San Miguel Theater Company (SMTC), located on Avenida Independencia, just before Vista Antigua and the Libramiento. I sat down with Jim to discuss his plans and expectations.

Mark Saunders: Why did you choose to open a new theater space in San Miguel?

Jim Newell: As an actor or director, it’s essential to have adequate rehearsal time. Unfortunately, most of the other venues in town don’t appreciate the value of rehearsals and severely limit them. Plus, some venues have pre-bookings that can interfere with your own production and many venues are over-booked. In short, I wanted to start a theater company that truly understood what it takes to make a production successful, a company committed to looking out for the performers, as well as the audience.

MS: What is your vision for the theater?

JN: The short-term goal is to provide quality theatrical productions in an accessible and comfortable setting with adequate parking and a comfortable ambiance. The long-term goal is to become a performing arts center.

MS: Could you tell us more about the space itself?

JN: It will seat 116 people in three sections around a thrust stage, where no one will be more than 15 feet from the stage. The space has great sightlines. There will be free parking, with room for 60 cars and a security guard. We’ll have space to store props, a comfortable green room and an area where drinks may be purchased. Our architect for the remodel is Dennis Hodgin, and he’s come up with a great design.

MS: When is the theater scheduled to open?

JN: We’re planning to open on September 10, with a production of Moonlight and Magnolias. This is the hilarious story of the writing of the screenplay for Gone with the Wind. The producer locks the director and the writer in his office for five days, feeds them nothing but peanuts and bananas and he and the director act out the parts for the writer because the guy has never read the book. It’s based on a true story. Tickets will be reserved seating and will be available closer to opening night.

MS: And after that?

JN: Our second production will be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by the English playwright Tom Stoppard, followed by Steel Magnolias. There will be an independently produced Christmas show, and a spring musical. We’ll also have movie presentations, one-person shows, dance recitals, concerts, etc., between major productions. In other words, we’re a performing arts center.

MS: How can people help out?

JN: We have a great board in place, consisting of myself, Judy Newell (my wife), Mary Norquist, Phoebe Greyson and Henry Vermillion. But as is true for any artistic undertaking, we could always use more help. For sponsorship or volunteer opportunities, please contact Mary at 415 121 1681 or

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