By most standards, the mountain communities that make up Teton County are considered small. But the beauty and lifestyle of the area draw people from all over the world, and like many other mountain towns, there has been a recent boom in growth.
To many longtime locals used to small-town living, this can be frustrating, even cause to flee. Others, however, look at the opportunities the influx can bring.
Local real estate advisor Anne Fish tends to look on the bright side. From writers and actors to filmmakers and musicians, some of the best and brightest creatives now call Teton Valley home. Her optimistic vision of what the future can bring will serve her well in her newest acquisition: the over 70-year-old theater formerly known as Pierre’s Playhouse.
The beloved theater in Victor has a long history, first opening in the ’50s as the Paramount Theater before the Egbert family bought it in the early ’60s and transformed it into Pierre’s Playhouse. Pierre’s specialized in melodrama, hosting over-the-top performances that always involved audience participation. The playhouse entertained audiences for over four decades, finally closing in 2006. It reopened as a movie theater before closing again in 2020.
Until Anne purchased it in September 2021, its fate was uncertain. Anne saw the listing for the theater while looking at her daily real estate hot sheet and spontaneously wrote up an offer. Within 48 hours she had put down earnest money to secure the building.
Anne will be the first to admit that owning a theater wasn’t on her radar, but the entertainment arts have always been a passion. She grew up in a musical family and played several instruments. She danced for the University of Wyoming, even performing at a few Dallas Cowboys halftime shows. When the community found out Anne was going to keep Pierre’s as a theater — and even return it to its former glory — the response was a collective sigh of relief. Taking Pierre’s out of Victor, someone told her, would be like ripping the heart out of the town.
“I didn’t even know how much it meant to the community until I purchased it,” Anne says. “I would go to the grocery store and have people stop me. I had people emailing me and calling me, saying ‘Thank you for saving Pierre’s.’ … We are preserving a piece of history, and people are just thrilled about that.”
The community will continue to see household favorites, such as the annual performance of “A Christmas Carol.” All eight performances of the December 2021 show sold out and were put on in partnership with the Arts, Cinema and Theater (ACT) Foundation, a local nonprofit. Going forward there will be themed movie nights, private events, talks, music, and of course, live theater.
Anne is also teaming up with Milissa West and the ACT Foundation to better serve the community and provide more opportunities for local kids. One such example was when Milissa invited students to the theater during the run of “A Christmas Carol” to learn about the roles needed to put together a live production.
There are also plenty of updates in the works, starting with a rebranding. The name of the theater is changing from Pierre’s Playhouse to Pierre’s Theatre to encompass the venue’s broader offerings — music, art, and cultural events in addition to live plays. A team of architects is also working on some exciting physical changes to the space, while still maintaining the theater’s charm. Anne also owns the lot next door and plans to bring back the tradition of gathering with friends before the show in a fun and unique outdoor space.
One major event on the books for September is Elizabeth Pitcairn’s performance with The Red Violin, a world-famous Stradivarius violin crafted in 1720 that was the inspiration behind the Academy Award winning film by the same name. Anne met Elizabeth on a ski trip in Lake Tahoe and the two connected and maintained a friendship. Elizabeth performs all over the world, including Carnegie Hall. During her time in Victor, there will be an intimate meet-and-greet and a class for the local high school orchestra, in addition to a live performance.
Hosting The Red Violin and Elizabeth in small-town Idaho is exactly the type of opportunity Anne wants to bring to Victor.
“We talk about the ‘great migration,’ and how people are flocking to mountain towns, and some locals may not like that,” she says. “But what I want to highlight is how great it can be. Imagine how amazing to be able to say, ‘I heard a Stradivarius play in our small community of Teton Valley, Idaho!’ A lot of people have to travel all over the world to say that. So it really does have its benefits.”