Pied Piper Productions: A Love Story for the Theatre

By Tiffany Cooke

Children ran through the theater’s doors yelling, “Daniel! Daniel! Daniel!”

They were eager to begin rehearsal for their next production, and Daniel Main, the director, was their leader. Parents told him that he was like the Pied Piper who lured away rats with his music.

While the original tale is much less simple than that, Main was like the Pied Piper because he was the man who brought children from all around together into one space with one common interest – the theater.

The name stuck and became the face of the theatre – Pied Piper Productions – commonly called the Pied Piper Children’s Theatre.

Daniel and Charity Main, who run the Pied Piper Children’s Theatre together, have built the theater on love. First a love for acting, then for each other, and now for the children they work with.

The couple met when they were both in the performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” He joked that he played the role of Joseph, while she played the role of a Joseph admirer.  

They shared a love for the stage from the start; she’d been acting since she was 8, him since 16.  Now, they work to share that love with others.

“I’m so blessed that my wife grew up in theater as well and it as passionate as I am,” Mr. Main said. “She sees the value of passing it onto other kids.”

But where did this begin?

In 1994, Daniel Main served on the board for the Washington County Community Actors’ Theater. Larry Hollen, a fellow member, suggested the idea for a children’s theater to become a part of the organization. He wanted Mr. Main to head it.

Having no idea where it would take him, he agreed. At the time, the children’s theatre was just a part of the community theater, but as some 100 children began to participate, he knew it was time for a change.

In 2006, the children’s theatre became a separate entity so the children could take on larger roles. This is when it officially became the Pied Piper Productions. That same year, the theatre moved to where it is located today in the Gary W. Hartsook Hall with a new stage and a new name.

Occasionally, the two Washington County theatres put on productions together so parents and children have the opportunity to perform together.

Outside of the production, Daniel and Charity work full-time jobs and have three children together.

“It’s difficult to go to a job all day and come straight here” Mr. Main said. “With the amount of shows we do, we could have two rehearsals back to back.”

Some nights, they rehearse as late as 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Time – or lack thereof – is the biggest challenge they work against in their business. The second, finances. Their last production of Cinderella costed some $8000 in total. Business sponsorships, ticket sales, and this time a Washington County Community Foundation helped them pay.

The Main’s don’t mind these challenges though because they focus on the bigger picture. They’re passionate about the change the theatre can have on the children, and this makes it all worthwhile to them.

“I’ve seen hundreds of kids,” Mr. Main said. “When some of them come in the very first time and they can barely look you in the eye and have a conversation with you, but by the time they have a few shows under their belts, I can see their confidence sky rocket.”

“So many kids think of this as their second home,” his wife added. “It’s a safe place where they can just be themselves.”

Some parents thank them for the positive impact they had on their children’s lives, and other children come back when they’re older, crediting some of their accomplishments to the experiences they had in the theatre.

Their favorite productions aren’t the ones that are necessarily the “best,” but instead the ones that that influence a significant change in a child’s life.

Several years ago, the Mains directed “Bye Bye Birdie.” This show stands out to Daniel Main, though only a small production, because of a single moment on the stage.

The young girl who held the lead part had trouble with one of her songs. Despite rehearsing it frequently, she still couldn’t get it right. She was near crying from frustration.

The night of the show, she got up on stage and just belted it out.

“I saw the tears of joy in her eyes when it happened,” Mr. Main said. “I can still remember it vividly.”

He got to be a part of this moment where she changed. This, he said, is his favorite part of being a director.

 With two separate age groups, the Mains organize and direct anywhere from six to ten performances each season. Because of this, they’ve decided it’s time for a building upgrade.

“It’s just lacking personality,” Mrs. Main said. “It’s been the same since it was built. We want to make it more updated and modern.”

The inside is currently under renovation. New lighting, a stage, and paint are all in the plans. Most changes will be cosmetic, but some serve function purposes. All the work is volunteer work only, with friends and supporters coming to help for a few hours a few times each week.

The Mains hope the building demonstrates a stronger “theatre feel” once finished.

They expect the building to be finished no later than September, just in time for the next season.

Daniel and Charity Main share a passion, a job, and a family, making work-life and home-life hard to balance, especially when it’s the week of a show.

Still, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

 “I could not do it without her,” Mr. Main said. “Some might say that I’m the face of the production, but she is every other aspect.”

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