DERRY — A longstanding youth theatre organization will find a new home not far from where they once rehearsed.

The zoning board granted approval for Kids Coop Theatre to operate at a new space at 46 East Derry Road.

A variance was granted by the board at a meeting June 6.

Kids Coop Theatre was established in 1997 by a small group of parents as nonprofit, educational charity, providing children with opportunities to perform, learn skills, and build self-esteem and teamwork in a non-competitive environment while also learning performance, dance, and singing skills. 

Previously, the youth group rehearsed regularly for many years at the nearby Upper Village Hall, also on East Derry Road.

According to Kids Coop board member Ken Young, it was time to sever the relationship with the historic hall.

"This past year we were hit with an increase of our lease fees," Young said, "and we had to make the hard choice to dissolve our relationship with the Upper Village Hall."

After leaving Upper Village Hall, Kids Coop moved its operation to various locations while searching for a new home, including the Londonderry YMCA and Dance Impressions in Windham.

It was a goal of the organization to move somewhere back to a better, centrally located space in Derry so youth actors representing all of Kids Coop's town of Derry, Windham, Hampstead, Londonderry, Salem, northern Massachusetts and beyond would have easier access.

"This has put a lot of stress on our members," Young said.

Kids Coop Theatre gives all of its members, regardless of acting skill, an opportunity to perform in its shows and membership is open to families with children ages 8 to 18.

Shows are performed four times a year at the Derry Opera House in downtown Derry.

The new space has previously been used for various businesses, including a hair salon. It will suit Kids Coop well, Young added, and is similar in size to what the Opera House stage offers. There will also be room for storage of musical instruments and costumes.

"We did a lot of running around this past year to make it work for the organization," Young said. "We were looking for a property that was affordable. This has enough space for us to do what we need to do. And having a central location will be a huge benefit to us."

Through the years, Kids Coop has performed such musicals and "The Addams Family," "Peter Pan," Annie" and "The Little Mermaid."

Upcoming shows this year include "Footloose" on July 26 and 27, and in November, Kids Coop will stage "Matilda," a musical based on the famed story by Roald Dahl.

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