Charity Spotlight: Stretching the Bounds of Imagination
Executive and Artistic Director: Maureen Dias-Watson
Board President: Lance Ross
In 1965, Scottsdale Community Players built the theater Greasepaint calls home with private funds on land that the City of Scottsdale owns. Greasepaint became the sole tenant of the Stagebrush Theatre after the theater company was founded in 1984.
By 2006, Greasepaint had become the driving organization of SCP/Greasepaint, changing its focus from an ordinary community theater company to one of the country’s premier youth theaters.
Greasepaint trains, teaches and mentors kids from five all the way through their college years. “We have students studying for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in performing arts in schools throughout Europe and in all of the best schools in the U.S. And all of these kids call Greasepaint their first theater home,” said Maureen Dias-Watson, Greasepaint’s executive and artistic director.
This fall alone, Greasepaint boasts three alumni taking lead roles on Broadway stages, four releasing major motion pictures, and six who will appear in upcoming Netflix and Apple TV+ projects. “Many of our alums have gone on to work professionally in the arts,” Dias-Watson said. “Many more are doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers and moms and dads themselves now.”
An integral part of Scottsdale’s Old Town and Arts District, Greasepaint frequently welcomes the children of alumni to the same stage that their own parents played and grew up on.
Most Surprising Thing About the Organization:
While most theater companies employ between six and 20 full-time staff, Greasepaint has always operated with just one or two full-time employees. Instead of a large team, Greasepaint relies on the dedicated volunteers on its board, in its parent community and among the kids and alumni themselves. “We also hire more than 50 local professionals each year as artistic staff on contract basis — directors, choreographers, musical directors, musicians and costume, set, sound and lighting designers. Our kids perform working with the best the Valley has to offer!” Dias-Watson said.
Greasepaint’s board president is Lance Ross of Ross Property Advisors. His mother was the B-movie actress known as Aquanetta, or “The Venezuelan Volcano.”
She was one of the Scottsdale leaders instrumental in forming the Scottsdale Community Players and building the Stagebrush Theatre.
According to Dias-Watson, Arizona is a wonderful place to be a theater kid, but it’s a tough place to earn a living as an artist. To help, Greasepaint commits to hiring alumni when and if they return home to Arizona.
The Stagebrush Theatre, which was designed by architect Joe Wong, has hosted more than 1,000 plays since its construction. It will soon be renovated as part of Scottsdale’s Museum Square Project. “We expect the opportunity for growth to be remarkable, and we are ready and poised for that renewal,” Dias-Watson said. “It’s a dream come true for those of us who work and play here and the thousands of Valley residents who come to be entertained.”
To learn more, visit greasepaint.org