In 1948, Emmy Gifford and two volunteers from the Junior League of Omaha were inspired to start a theater for young audiences in Omaha and one year later, the Omaha Junior Theater was born. The organization (one of the oldest in its kind in the United States) grew and thrived despite that it didn’t have a permanent home or any paid staff for 25 years.
In 1974, a capital fundraising campaign enabled the Junior Theater to find a permanent home—complete with a 500-seat theater, classrooms and a costume shop—at the Center Theater, a neighborhood movie house. In 1977, the theater company was renamed The Emmy Gifford Children’s Theater to honor its principal founder and her dream.
In the late 70s, the theater’s administrative and artistic staff started seeing significant growth and took the theater in a new direction; and in 1993, a donation from the Blumkin Family took it to a new location. The company changed its name to the Omaha Theater Company and moved to the old Astro Theater—renamed The Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center—after a $10.3 million renovation spearheaded by The Rose Blumkin Performing Arts Center Foundation President Susie Buffett. The Omaha Theater Company first staged a production at The Rose Theater in 1995.
More than 60 years after its humble beginning, The Rose Theater has a well-seasoned, professional staff dedicated to enriching the lives of children and their families through live theater and arts education.