The Little Theaters That Could

By Henerson, Evan | Stage Directions, April 2005 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Little Theaters That Could


Henerson, Evan, Stage Directions


For these three diffrerent community theaters, the goal remains the same: serve up top-notch fare and stay in the black.

Albuquerque Little Theatre

Age has its privilege. Now in its 75th year of operation, Albuquerque Little Theatre (ALT) is the oldest and second largest theater of its kind in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Having occupied its current home since 1936, the first structure in the city to be built by the Works Progress Administration under President Roosevelt's New Deal, ALT recently underwent two years and $625,000 worth of renovations.

Improvements include a new roof and seats, shifting of the sound and light board and sprucing up the backstage, dressing rooms, rehearsal hall and lobby. More significantly, says Executive Director Larry D. Parker, is the fact that ALT will soon be completely debt-free.

"We're about to complete a realestate transaction that will allow us to eliminate all of the theater's debt," says Parker. "Some of the money is going into the theater's endowment fund, and we're using the balance to upgrade equipment like our sound and light boards."

The company's 10-play season in its 490-seat house includes three children's shows, made possible by ALT's acquisition of the Albuquerque Children's Theatre. The company runs on an operating budget of about $600,000 and boasts 500 volunteers. The 2004-05 season included such selections as the musical Buddy: Babe: the Sheep Pig: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.

Over the years, ALT has also hosted several well-known celebrities. Vivian Vance (TV's Ethel Mertz) performed on ALT's stage, and the theater owns her "I Love Lucy" Emmy award. And Bill Daily, (Major Roger Healey of "I Dream of Jeannie" fame), living in retirement in Albuquerque, took the stage for ALT's production of My Three Angels.

There are some 25 to 30 community theaters in New Mexico, but ALT doesn't see itself as being in competition with other local playhouses, regardless of their size or scope. "The joke around here is that we're the mother theater, because the next oldest is less than half our age," Parker says. "We are very supportive of the other theaters in town. We've got a very liberal lending policy. There aren't many shows done locally that don't have something from us."

Diamond Head Theatre

This 90-year-old company, located in Honolulu, takes its nickname "Broadway of the Pacific" very seriously. Familiar Broadway titles, predominantly musicals, dominate the seasonal lineup of Diamond Head Theatre (DHT), formerly known as The Footlights and later the Honolulu Community Theatre. Shows like A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Fantasticks, Disney's Beauty and the Beast and, next season. The Full Monty, are assembled almost exclusively by community artists and designers, though an occasional guest star or director may visit-usually with great enthusiasm and a desire to return.

"We're lucky we live in a place people enjoy coming to, and it's a perfect experience for us," says Deena Dray, DHT managing director for the past nine years. "Everybody here is really happy to have the professional expertise [of a guest artist] to lend an aura to the production. And everybody who works here walks away having enjoyed Hawaii and wanting to come back and work here again."

The Honolulu Community Theatre entertained troops during World War II, refusing to shutter even during the bombings of Pearl Harbor. After performing at several sites on the island of Oahu, the company was given the keys to a 500-seat former USO movie house in 1952. In 1980, it added a costume and scene shop. Major renovations and upgrades are in the works for the company's 100th anniversary in 2015. Until then, the company's mission remains to bring excellent live theater to locals and tourists alike.

"Live theater is such a unique experience and really should be experienced by everybody," says Dray.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Little Theaters That Could
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?