Knock 'em Dead (KED) began producing shows in 1984. At that time, the "season" was one to two shows a year in facilities rented by the partnership organization. This was truly a grass roots operation at inception. The sets were constructed in a neighborhood garage, and painted in the front yard; when completed, the set pieces were stored in another garage. A few days before the production was to begin, the cast and crew would gather for a car parade of set pieces to the rented facility. Then magically within the day, the set puzzle pieces were assembled in their rightful places on stage.
The first production of this partnership was Dracula in 1984, at the Women's Club, 300 Main. In 1986, Knock ‘em Dead moved to the Boise Little Theater facility during the summers. Tickets were sold through Ballou-Latimer stores in three scattered locations in Boise. Taking turns, the two partners made nightly pick-ups at the stores just before show time to pick up receipts and determine how many tickets had actually been pre-sold for the evening.
In 1991, after KED produced Chess at Boise Little Theatre during the summer, a few of the Knock 'em Dead cast members suggested that KED incorporate and become a full-time non-profit theatre. With the persistence of a few, KED became a corporation in the State of Idaho, and was granted the status of a 501(3)c non-profit organization. The niche of KED had always been musicals, but another unique characteristic for KED came to life--the addition of serving dinners with the show in the fall of 1991.
The next challenge became finding a "permanent" home for a full-time theatre. Through the kindness of Capital City Development Corporation (CCDC), the first residence of KED was 809 West Idaho Street between Orient East and Kandor. The theatre was small and charmingly intimate. Up to 80 seats were available, but that was "packing them in." The first caterer was The Brick Oven Beanery, and dinners were shuttled across Main Street on rolling carts at about 6 p.m. The stage was very small, but fortunately, the ceilings were tall so when extra performing space was needed, the sets became two-story. The actors had a small area for dressing, but since there were no wings on the side of the stage and no entrance from the back of the stage, the actors waited quietly in the dark lobby to make their appearances on stage.
With all the enthusiasm of a newly found art organization, KED ambitiously created a nine-month performance season with 7 shows—each 3 to 5 weeks long with only two weeks between each show. At the end of the season, most felt this type of schedule was too strenuous to endure for much longer; the troupe decided upon a five-show season for 1992-1993. It was during this season that performers wrote a Christmas show called “T'was the Night” in four days! The show offered a collection of Christmas songs, readings and skits. The format of this show captured the hearts of KED's audience and became a season standard for 11 years.
The 1993-94 season consisted of only three shows because our leasing arrangement with CCDC became uncertain--there were plans to replace us with other tenants. Also, we had found that our performance runs were not long enough to capture all possible sales. Therefore, we started seven-week runs which was a new concept for community theatres in the Treasure Valley.
In the spring of 1995, we were told that our lease on Idaho Street would terminate. Our last show at 807 West Idaho became “A...My Name is Still Alice”. However, KED was not off the boards for long. A search of vacant buildings in downtown Boise resulted in moving to 333 South 9th. The very hot summer of 1995 was spent renovating the huge warehouse location while at the same time rehearsing for Fiddler on the Roof.
An enormous 16-foot wall was built the entire length of the warehouse to separate our 7,500 square foot space from the remainder of the unused warehouse. An outside ramp leading to the loading dock area outside of our lobby was built to accommodate the need for handicap access into the theatre. Two new large restrooms were created and provided handicap access. In the front of the warehouse space, one office became a coatroom, one became a music rehearsal space, and the third became the Box Office. Two original back-to-back fireplaces remain in the lobby. An L-shaped kitchen area was also built with numerous cabinets to hold dishes, plenty of countertop space to serve dinners with ease, and a clean-up area complete with a built-in commercial dishwasher. New fire exit doors were placed along the outer wall of the auditorium and wooden stairs were built from the ground to those doorways. The 38 x 30-foot stage was built on the far end of the warehouse. Behind the stage lay areas for a large shop, set storage, an upstairs prop room, and curtained dressing rooms for cast members. A lighting and sound booth was built near the ceiling in the back of the auditorium. The auditorium seated 166 people at approximately 21 dinner tables.
December 2009, Knock'em Dead moved to:
415 E Parkcenter Boulevard
The move was necessary since the building will be torn down for the upcoming convention center.
The seasons since 1995 have supported 5 shows per year. The length of the shows varies from three to eight weeks depending upon time of year or the show's popularity. Typically, the Christmas variety show is three weeks long and the June show runs only four weeks.
The Spring of 2014 brought an abrupt halt to our season when our location at the mall became part of a much larger real estate deal and the Parkcenter mall was sold to make room for a new charter school. With only 2 weeks until the opening of "Avenue Q", the theatre had three weeks to find a suitable location and move the entire theatre into storage. So all of the costumes, sets, props, tables, chairs and furniture was placed in storage while we struggled to figure out how to continue our mission of providing some of the best entertainment to the Treasure Valley and state of Idaho. We are now teaming with the AEN Playhouse at 8001 W. Fairview Avenue (in the Shopko Plaza), Boise to start presenting shows throughout the year in a new venue. We hope you'll continue to follow us and support us.
Since 1998, Knock ‘em Dead has asked audience members who attend an Invited Dress Rehearsal to donate two cans of food for the benefit of the Idaho Foodbank. This has been a very successful endeavor as the food donated averages 485 pounds per year. In recent years, audience members have a choice to donate $2 instead of the canned food. For each dollar that is donated, the Idaho Foodbank can buy 5 meals.
As we continue our journey, We look forward to creating many more marvelous evenings of theatrical magic for your enjoyment! Join us!