Company of Fools has a secure, permanent performance space in Hailey, now that longtime supporters and actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore have gifted the Liberty Theatre to the company.
The couple bought the historic movie house at 110 N. Main St. in 1995 with the idea of transforming it into a live-performance space. The next year, the couple encouraged their friends Rusty Wilson and Denise Simone to move their theater company from Richmond, Virginia, to Idaho to perform on the Liberty’s thrust stage.
It was a successful arrangement for both parties based on an informal agreement about the building’s use. Now, with this formalized gift, the theater can go into the future with confidence.
“Bruce and Demi originally envisioned the Liberty as a place for the community to gather,” says Company of Fools Artistic Director John Glenn. “I am so proud of the work we have accomplished so far, and Bruce and Demi’s belief in our work is demonstrated in this unbelievable gift.”
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In 2013, Company of Fools merged with the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, a multi-faceted organization that runs museum-quality art galleries, presents educational programs, music, dance and film screenings in venues around the Wood River Valley of Central Idaho.
The Fools also have a presence at the center’s main hub on Fifth Street in Ketchum, along with their main stage at the Liberty.
The merger created the largest arts organization in Idaho and freed the Fools from worrying about the future of the company.
Willis and Simone met in college, before Willis hit it big. He was spotted in an off-Broadway production of Sam Shepard’s “Fool For Love” in the early 1980s. Willis got the lead role after Ed Harris left the production to do the film “The Right Stuff.” Willis then landed the romantic TV comedy “Moonlighting” opposite Cybill Shepherd in 1985.
Willis returned to the stage in Hailey for a production of Shepard’s “Fool for Love” in 1997 and “True West” in 2001.
The Hollywood actor is the star of films such as “The Sixth Sense,” the “Die Hard” franchise and the cult classic “The Fifth Element.”
In 1987, he married Moore, who has starred in “St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Ghost,” “A Few Good Men, “G.I. Jane” and more.
The couple moved to Idaho, where they raised their daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallulah, and became involved in the community. They bought The Mint Building, the Liberty and Soldier Mountain Ski Area near Fairfield. Willis donated the ski area to a locally run nonprofit in 2012. It was bought by Matt and Diane McFerran of Bend, Oregon, in 2015.
The couple divorced in 2000, but remain close friends as well as supporters of the Wood River Valley.