ZAO THEATRE: Apache Junction’s Own Full-Fledged Community Theatre

By Hank Sheffer

Yes, Apache Junction does have its own full-fledged community theatre.

Zao Theatre occupies the Superstition Mountain Elementary School (SMES) complex. As a part of this community, it has always been our desire to engage, inspire, entertain and challenge audiences with theatrical productions that range from the classics to new works. We offer opportunities and support to new and aspiring generations of young theatre artists, as well as offering a forum for some of the best peformers to be found anywhere in the state of Arizona to perform.

We provide arts education promoting life-long learning to a diverse community, while celebrating the essential power of the theatre to develop one’s sense of self, community, and the purpose of life.

The name, Zao Theatre, comes from two sources: the first a Greek verb “zao,” meaning: to live, breathe—be among the living—to enjoy real life. And “theatre,” which is defined as a collaborative form of art that uses live performers to present a real or imagined event before a live audience. That is exactly what we do at Zao Theatre; we live, breathe and enjoy real life and share those experiences with our audiences.

Since its inception, Zao Theatre has offered the best in Broadway-style entertainment in the East Valley. It became a living, breathing entity in October, 2014, when presenting its production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple, followed shortly thereafter with another of the popular Simon plays, Barefoot in the Park. The first important hurdles for a new theatre had been overcome—actors were willing to work with us, and audiences found us. Zao Theatre was alive!

In 2015, we forged ahead with the gripping best-seller drama, To Kill a Mockingbird. At the close of that show, we found ourselves preparing to move Centerstage Church and Zao Theatre to their current location at Ironwood and Broadway. Ironically, with that move Zao became the only major theatre in the valley that could actually say it was “On Broadway.”

We have been enjoying life ever since. Zao Theatre is a performer’s theatre and has continued to present quality, top-notch productions such as: Godspell, The Foreigner, 1776: The Musical, A Few Good Men, Nunsense: The Mega Musical, the huge production, Ragtime:The Musical, Curses Foiled Again: A Melodrama, and 12 Angry Jurors.

Theatre is great entertainment, and there is always something for everyone to enjoy.

Zao Theatre is located at 550 South Ironwood Drive in Apache Junction, Arizona 85120. For information about the theatre, upcoming shows or to purchase tickets, visit our website,, or email: or call: 480-924-5122.

Photo above: Performances at Zao Theatre have included ‘Ragtime: The Musical’.

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