OFT’s first show- October 2006- at the Midnight Sun- “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

Olympia Family Theater engages audiences of all ages in performances and programs that entertain and educate.

Olympia Family Theater is a State and Federally registered 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to bringing quality theater experiences to our all ages audiences. By the end of the 2017-18 season, we will have produced over 55 shows in our main stage season, including 5 world premieres, as well as a wide variety of educational experiences for all ages. We offer sliding scale tuition and/or scholarships to all of our educational offerings. We partner with area non-profits to give complimentary tickets to groups serving youth, adults with developmental disabilities, and families in our area.

OFT Education Mission:

OFT is your community partner in raising imaginative, loving, joyful and confident children. Our educational programs provide opportunities for personal development for young people, teaching creativity and responsibility, encouraging teamwork and personal integrity, and fostering self-esteem and appreciation for the performing arts.

Group Photo Master DRAFT

OFT’s first show in our new location -September 2014- “Busytown”

Olympia Family Theater has been serving families in Thurston County and surrounding areas since 2006. We offer quality theatrical productions for young audiences in a variety of settings, as well as educational programs for youth from infancy through high school. From humble beginnings, OFT has become a thriving non-profit arts organization engaging thousands of children and their families each year.

  • Mainstage Stories – Five plays annually including two musicals and at least one show featuring youth performers
  • Creative Camps and Workshops –performing arts workshops and ongoing classes for youth, culminating in performances, plus more than 35 different week-long school break camps for ages 5-18.
  • Let’s Play– New shows every month- Generally the 1st week of the month we offer a different folk/fairy tale for our youngest patrons
  • On The Move – OFT’s field trip and/or touring performance program. Book one of our “on the move” shows as a special field trip experience for your students here at OFT, or we can bring the show to your school or library.

Our Founders


Olympia Family Theater was founded in 2006 by Jen Ryle and Samantha Chandler.  They both were inspired to create a theater company in Olympia that focused on bringing people of all ages together.  Together along with truck-loads of friends, they grew this tiny theater company up from the ground. Their commitment and passion  made OFT what it is today. We are forever grateful for their vision.

You can find Jen at OFT, in the role of Artistic Director.

Samantha still makes guest appearances as camp staff, and acting & directing Mainstage Stories.

Jen Ryle

Artistic Director

2010, Jen in the lobbyJen arrived in Olympia in 2001 after a lifetime of performing and loving music, children’s literature and theater. She studied music and drama in high school and her early college years in Seattle. Over the years, she has gained experience directing, acting, singing and supporting local performing arts groups.

During her first 6 years in Olympia, you would have found her busily volunteering at Lincoln Elementary as the choir director and creating performance opportunities for many different classes of children. Jen is indebted to Lincoln and grateful for the opportunities she had there to perform, direct, adapt children’s stories into short plays, to make music and work with children. Lincoln provided a place for her to grow as a parent, an artist and a person.

Jen completed her BA at The Evergreen State College in June of 2006. She focused her studies on expressive arts, business and education with the goal in mind of creating a children’s theater here in Olympia. She worked for three summers with her friends at Creative Theatre Experience (CTE) and for 5 years, she was a community specialist at the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) teaching classes on everything from creative dramatics and puppetry to reader’s theater and crafts. For her own professional development in 2012-13, Jen completed a certificate program- “Directing for the Stage and Screen” at the University of Washington.

Jen is OFT’s co-founder and Artistic Director. She also works behind the scenes as the production manager for every show in addition to assisting with props, scenic painting and costumes when needed. For OFT Jen has directed; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (3 times), The Giver, Rapunzel, The BFG, Winnie the Pooh, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Go, Dog. Go!, Lyle the Crocodile, Busytown, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Cinder Edna.

Jen is living her dream, watching OFT as it grows and flourishes. She looks forward to expanding OFT’s educational offerings, school break camps, and creative classes for all ages. She feels so lucky to work with amazing people; actors, designers, technicians, teaching artists, volunteers, sponsors, and donors who are passionate about sharing the magic of theater with families and our community.

Alexis Sarah

Operations & Marketing Manager

Alexis_Sarah_picAlexis brings a blend of public, private and nonprofit experience to Olympia Family Theater. She has over 14 years of arts and education nonprofit experience, ranging from devoted volunteer to founding board member. Through her work experience at Mariah Art School, she understands the immense benefit that arts education has on the lives of young people. She is a strong believer that access to the arts should be an educational right and not a privilege. Alexis is a founding board member of Encore Arts, a memorial foundation whose mission is to connect local South Sound young people with art opportunities.

Alexis came to Olympia in 1996 to finish college and quickly realized that this is an awesomely creative town to raise her children. As a child, she was influenced by her family full of visual artists and business owners. She has always found comfort in wildly creative people and the places that inspire them.

In 1999, Alexis earned a Bachelor of Science degree from The Evergreen State College with a focus on marine studies. She loved the field work and internships the kept her working on the Washington beaches with the low tides—even in the middle of the night in winter! She returned to Evergreen in 2010 to complete her Master of Public Administration with a public/nonprofit concentration. Her graduate degree helped blend all of the work experience & educational passions into one place—data, art, science, and systems.


Tracy Thomas

Box Office Staff

Hannah Eklund

Daytime Program Director

Volunteer Staff

Jill Carter

Scenic Designer

Jill at work!Jill Carter is an accomplished theatrical designer with many years experience doing scenic, lighting and projection designs, primarily in Olympia for Harlequin Productions, Ballet Northwest, the Evergreen State College and many local theaters. She is a graduate of Evergreen where she studied technical theater. She interned as a scenic designer at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and returned to Olympia to become Evergreen’s Technical Director and then Harlequin’s Production Manger for many years. She is also an interior designer, locally she designed Swing Wine Bar and Cascadia Grill. She is now a freelance graphic, projection, interior and theatrical designer enjoying doing animated projections, children’s book illustrations, and artists websites.

David Nowitz

Scenic Engineer

David in Throne

Building sets is what I do.
Though I do show photos too.
Do some ushering, working strike.
OFT is what I like!








Diana Purvine


Indispensable People

Board of Directors

Chair:  Katrina Groen (interim)

Vice Chair:

Treasurer: Robin McPherson

Secretary: Jennifer Huntley

Members at Large:
Andrea Griffith
Brad Peterson
Meghan Goodman

Youth Representative:

Contact the Board of Directors directly at  board@olyft.org

Artists in Residence

Let’s Play Daytime show playwright: Kate Ayers

Guest Scenic Design: Steve Bylsma

Promotional Photos: Alexis Sarah, David Nowitz

Logo and Original Poster Images: Nikki McClure


  • Amy Shephard

    AmyShephardAmy loves everything and anything theater.  She has been performing and teaching theater to young people in the greater Olympia area over 4 years.  She is thrilled



  • Carolyn Willems Van Dijk

    HeadshotA Wisconsin native, Carolyn holds a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. Since moving to



  • Christine Goode

    ChristineGoodeChristine Goode is a local kindergarten teacher and actor. She has been teaching for



  • Claribel Gross

    Headshot_ClaribelGrossClaribel is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist, director and teacher.  She has a strong passion for 



  • Dale Sharp

    Dale Sharp is a native to Olympia, Washington and super excited to play around at OFT. He comes from an acting and education background from



  • Kate Ayers

    KateAyersKate Ayers has toured extensively throughout the Midwest performing in educational theatre programs in schools and museums. She has written curriculum for



  • Mandy Ryle

    MandyRyleMandy has been a part of OFT camps since the very first one! She has taught many camps such as



  • Rebecca Rogers

    RebeccaRogersRebecca Rogers recently completed her BA from The Evergreen State College with an emphasis in Performing Arts.  She has an extensive background (20+ years) in



  • Ryan Campeau

    RyanCampeau-croppedRyan Campeau is a native of Walla Walla, Washington. She studied theater intensively



  • Samantha Chandler

    SamChanHeadshot1Samantha is a long time educator and co-founder of Olympia Family Theater. She is a Advanced Language Arts teacher at



  • Vanessa Postil

    VanessaVanessa Postil is a local performer/theater technician who has worked with almost all of our Olympia theater companies both on and off the stage. You may have seen her



Olympia Family Theater is a proud member of: