T H E D I R E C T O R
Founder & Director
The Founder and Director, Michelle Leigh
Theatre came into my life when I was 14years old. I was a shy, quiet & content wall flower who worked to not be noticed. When I found I had the overwhelming desire to audition for the spring musical in the brand new HS after our family moved to Oregon I was as shocked as my parents at the pronouncement. I was cast in the chorus and found over the weeks that followed that theatre opened a world to me that I didn’t know could exist. I literally found my voice – which lead to confidence, strength and facing fears of a world that seemed so much bigger than myself.
Over the next 10 years I continued in theatre through college and into the professional world around the Hollywood area. I truly felt I had found my niche and loved every moment of it. In 1994 I made the decision to be a mom and come back to Oregon with my then spouse as he wished to return to college in our home state. Five years later I graduated from Nursing school and stepped into a new career that I found I was as equally passionate about as the theatre – I knew my skill in nursing was in great thanks to the skills I had learned from the theatre and I knew I would be forever grateful for what I had been given and hoped that one day I could give back. The day to give back came in a most unexpected way.
When my oldest daughter (Beth Dodge – now my Artistic Director/Choreographer & A Course Instructor) was five years old when I signed her up for her first Drama camp – in one week they rehearsed and performed a stage production. By the time she was nine she had performed in eight of these camps. One night when I was working at the hospital my daughter discovered my memory box in the garage labeled “theatre – mom” She opened it and found that “mom the nurse” had a secret past that she didn't know about. She asked me about the programs, videos, mementos and posters she found. She asked what I did, where I did it and then, the biggest question of all, she asked if I would direct a show she could be in.
At the time she asked my reaction was, "No." The financial part of putting a show together was overwhelming to think about – how could I do it? Two nights later I had the most vivid dream that showed me how – I wanted to know if the community had a need for a program like this and decided it was worth a try.
What started out as a onetime thing – has led to a theatre with now, a ten year and 25 production history under its belt! I will be forever grateful for the innocence of a child making a request that seemed impossible. Having been a nurse for now fifteen years and running a children’s theatre that has had to date over 1, 400 participants: performers, crew members, volunteers and assistants, I'm still going strong.
I had hoped one day I could give back to that which gave me so much – I am so proud of the way that has come about. People ask me all the time – how do you find the time with your schedule
I realize when I see the children and families whose lives are made better due to access to a program such as OCCT – it isn’t about finding or making time
It’s about something much more – and recognizing that time is the least I can give
"Dedicated to the Drama Dreams of Our Children"