Photo | Jacob Rowe, left, founder of The PACT Theatre Company, winner of Best Theatre Group- Children’s, is looking to expand beyond a youth theater company. The PACT’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” (right) won for “Best Play or Performance of the Year.”
Best Theater Group – Children’s
The PACT Theatre Company
Best Play or Performance of the Year
“Beauty and the Beast,” The PACT
In a city whose calendar and culture revolve around Carnival and mystic parades, people expect the unexpected and are drawn to the unknown. According to The PACT Theatre Company founder Jacob Rowe, that’s exactly why The PACT productions have attracted a commanding audience over the past four years.
The PACT has been recognized as the 2022 Nappie Award winner for Best Children’s Theater Company. It is also taking home a Nappie for Best Performance of the Year for its production of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Rowe, who is just 25, started the company while a senior at the University of Alabama (UA). He told Lagniappe feeling the magic of a theater production is why he loves what he does and what fuels The PACT productions. He said each production aims to play on realism, put spins on familiar stories and recreate the mystery of first encounters.
The PACT’s showing of “Beauty and the Beast” ran 12 sold-out performances last November. Rowe said the company is currently on track to accomplish the same thing with its ongoing show, “Legally Blonde,” which he said features the best cast, costuming and production the company has ever done.
He believes the success of “Legally Blonde” is significant because it is debuting The PACT as a full-fledged theater and not just a youth company.
“It’s the best quality show we’ve ever had,” Rowe said. “It’s also the fastest production we’ve ever put together. From our first rehearsal to our first show, we did it in just three weeks.”
While theater has always been popular in Mobile, Rowe said he’s looking to bring something new to the table with a higher standard of experience. He said his company is heavily investing in bringing a professional tone to the entire storytelling experience, from acting to set design to technology to lighting and costumes. He said this holistic approach is empowering The PACT’s casts to put on shows that bring new life to old stories.
“People know these stories and are familiar with them. It’s our passion to figure out how to set apart our performances and experience by bringing on new adaptations,” he said. “I’m an innovator. I like to do things out of the box and give people something they’re not expecting.”
Rowe is the son of Terry and Angie Rowe and a lifelong Mobile resident. He grew up participating in productions at Playhouse in the Park and Chickasaw Civic Theatre. After graduating from McGill-Toolen Catholic High School in 2015, he began his pursuit of a musical theater degree at UA. In 2018, Rowe launched The PACT Theatre Co. with the help of his partners, Erin Walker and Kendall Lee, and spent the year traveling between Tuscaloosa and Mobile every weekend while getting the company on its feet and producing its inaugural shows.
“I spent a summer in New York and came back to Mobile to direct ‘The Little Mermaid’ in Chickasaw. During that time I really fell in love with being here in the city. I had an overwhelming desire to do more and offer more for Mobile,” Rowe said. “I wanted to train up performers and provide professional-quality entertainment to the area.”
Rowe said he wants to build a company that can begin to drive tourism and impact the economy. However, he also wants a company that brings Broadway-caliber experiences to underprivileged communities that are not normally able to experience the arts.
“I’ll tell people that we’re not a community theater and we’re not a professional theater; we’re pre-professional,” Rowe said.
Now approaching the theater’s fifth year in business, the company is putting together multiple productions every season and has nearly 15 productions under its belt already. The company engages with 300 to 500 performers each year through its main productions. He said “Beauty and the Beast” alone featured 84 cast and crew members.
The PACT’s week-to-week acting classes reach an additional 100 to 150 K-12 students each year. The company’s performance team participates in competitions and has earned top marks every single year.
In celebration of its fifth anniversary, Rowe said The PACT is planning a “huge” season with five performances beginning this fall.
“We’re going to be producing shows that have not been done in this region, and some that have not been done by any company in the nation,” Rowe said. He specifically noted that “The Prom” has just concluded its Broadway tour and The PACT will be the first theater company to pick it up.
Plans for the company include expanding into a larger facility from its current location in the Cottage Village Shopping Center. The current theater seats 154. Rowe said he is also looking to push into professional-level productions with paid performers and crew.
Rowe said the best way for people to stay up to date with The PACT is to follow them on Facebook or Instagram (@thepactmobile).
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