Youth theater group launched

Stu Johnson has been working in theater since he was a kid. He’s been working on Imagination Theatre for much less. “It took off like a flash fire,” Johnson said of the recently-formed, Plateau-based youth theater company. For the past eight years Johnson’s been working with Stage Door Productions, specifically helping with the Plateau group’s Summer Youth Theater Camp. Stage Door will continue its camp, but without Johnson, who is helping to start Imagination Theatre, a nonprofit that will provide acting opportunities for kids year round. “I feel the Plateau needs more arts for the youth, more than what’s been available to them in the past,” Johnson said. “I love Stage Door,” he said. “They do great things, but I felt there should be more. Kids love theater. They love the arts.” Building a love for the arts in youth bodes well for the future of arts in the community, Johnson noted. “Kids who are involved in the arts do better in school,” he said. “They have more confidence and participate in community.” With his background as a partner in Leaps and Bounds Preschool in Enumclaw and his work as a church youth director in Bonney Lake, Johnson said Imagination Theatre is designed for kids ages 4 to 19. Youngsters at Imagination Theatre can also supply talent for outside theater companies that may have a need to cast children. Johnson is the front man for Imagination Theatre, but the nonprofit organization is overseen by a board of directors that includes Angela Wentz, John and Jamie Stager, Karen Estby, Whitney Humenick and Lisa Nunn. “It’s community,” Johnson said. “It’s not my theater company. This belongs to everyone.” Although an official schedule has not yet been launched, the “Wizard of Oz” is on the playbill for summer. Johnson is also hoping to get a spring show put together. Information will be posted soon on the group’s yet-to-be-launched website, but those interested can e-mail