Yelm’s SRO Theater hosts successful showings of ‘Nunsense’

Organization seeks to expand shows in 2024 and beyond


Yelm’s Standing Room Only Theater (SRO) hosted its fourth theater performance since the end of March on Saturday, June 1, at Yelm’s Outpost Church. With the organization’s popularity growing and shows becoming more common, the community theater group aims to expand into different venues throughout Yelm in 2024 and beyond. 

SRO Theater held its “Comedy Cabaret” show in Tenino on March 30, the “1940s Radio Show” and mini play on May 11, “Nunsense” on June 1, and has four upcoming showings of “Murder Mystery” scheduled for July 18, 19, 25 and 26 at Farrelli’s in Yelm. 

Steve Harshfield, SRO Theater’s president, said over 100 people attended the two showings of “Nunsense” on June 1 at Yelm’s Outpost Church. He added that it was the first time the organization has hosted “what amounts to a full blown musical” since it presented “Mamma Mia” in 2019.

“It’s been quite an adventure. It’s been a little tough because most of the creative team is pretty much the same for all three events. After all is said and done, we’ve been thrilled with the ultimate results of it,” Harshfield said. “We had a great showing this weekend with ‘Nunsense.’ We’re looking forward to continuing bringing new programs to the community, building up our audiences, and showing them what SRO can do even in some of the limited spaces we have.” 

With the final showing of “Nunsense” Monday, June 4, at Uptown Lounge in Yelm, Harshfield said SRO Theater will turn its attention to the upcoming “Murder Mystery” performances in July. Rehearsals for the show will begin this week. 

“There is a script for ‘Murder Mystery,’ but it’s not as dialed in or as structured. The nice thing about ‘Murder Mystery’ is it’s kind of turned into improv,” Harshfield said. “We go with what the audience gives us, and we make sure we have some script points we hit along the way. It’s another challenge for our actors, but it’s a good challenge for them.”

The improv style gives SRO Theater members an opportunity to learn improvisation skills, have some fun with character development and put on an entertaining show, Harshfield said. Harshfield, who typically serves in a production or directing capacity for SRO, said he has not done much improv or acting, leaving it to the “pros.” 

“I can improvise my way through life pretty well, but I can’t even imagine what it takes to have a fictional character or a made-up character in their mind — all while they have to answer questions as that character throughout the night with the intent of steering the audience towards a successful ending and a conclusion that’s acceptable,” Harshfield said. “We want to give a good payoff for the audience.” 

With SRO Theater hosting shows for the first time in Tenino, at Yelm’s Uptown Lounge and in July at Farrelli’s, Harshfield said expanding to different locations has been great for the organization. 

“It’s been great having the community reach out to us letting us know there’s space they’d like to offer for a performance or a show,” Harshfield said. “That was the first time we had something in Tenino, and that was a completely different program altogether. It was singing and dancing, with some comedy skits. We’ve basically had four shows within the last four months. We had a show at the very end of March, but I consider that to be April.”

SRO Theater has been “in touch” with Yelm’s InGenius Gallery and Boutique about potentially hosting a performance at the business’s location near Yelm City Park, Harshfield said. He added that organizers have been talking with other locations about potential shows later in the year or in 2025, including at Yelm City Park on the newly constructed amphitheater stage. 

“We’re looking at different programming to make use of that new stage because that’s a whole different ball game,” Harshfield said. “That’s something very public and very out there, and something that’s not as enclosed as we’re used to. We’re looking for some shows to do there later in the year and next year.” 

He added that SRO Theater has also been working with Yelm Community Schools to host “Cinderella” and an educational program this summer at Yelm High School in the Performing Arts Center auditorium. 

“It’s a great venue they have there that actually rivals some professional theaters throughout the world. We’d love to be able to take that opportunity and begin using that space as much as possible,” Harshfield said. “It’ll be interesting because the potential there might’ve been affected by the levy failing. We’re still trying to get with the school district and figure out what that means for the drama program at Yelm High School. 

“One of our board members, Dale Sharp, is intimately involved in that program,” Harshfield added. “He’s the drama teacher at YHS and was given notice right at the end of the year that his job may not be back next year because of the failure of the levy.”

Harshfield added that art already “takes a back seat” to other activities in schools, and with the levy failing, that’s a serious threat to theater, drama and arts in Yelm. 

“We’re trying to figure out what we can do to help plug the holes,” Harshfield said.