What began as a small community organization in 1978 has now turned into a Starkville entertainment staple located in the heart of downtown – the Starkville Community Theatre.
In the mid ‘90s, the Starkville Community Theatre purchased the old Katz dress shop and transformed it into the Playhouse on Main, which seats 91 people for their much-anticipated series of shows throughout each season.
Back on Stage
After a pause in production during the COVID-19 pandemic, the playhouse is looking forward to returning to a new normal and is ready to begin once again offering entertainment to its dedicated season-ticket holders and to all members of the Starkville community.
When asked about the anticipation of the new season, SCT Executive Director Gabe Smith said, “We always want to be more than what we are.” Smith added, “More for the whole community, that’s what I want us to be.”
There wasn’t a complete halt during the pandemic, however. The theatre was able to offer two outdoor shows and two online-only shows, which they had never previously done before, and the newest season promises to be one for the books.
The theatre just cast roles for its first in-house performance “Smoke on the Mountain”, and other well-known shows like “9 to 5 – The Musical” are coming later this winter and next spring. Season tickets go on sale later this month.
Much like any business or organization, SCT had to pivot and become creative when it came to finding a way to continue through the pandemic with safe practices and fundraising.
Smith said, “When we realized we couldn’t do in-person shows, we did a fundraiser and asked for donations of what would be season ticket costs, and our generous community actually exceeded what we would get in a normal year.”
In addition to fundraising, the community theatre was also voted ‘Most Missed Event’ during the Best of Starkville voting campaign.
“It goes to show when you’re gone, you really are missed,” said Smith.
“As a nonprofit, we depend on people being invested in what we’re doing,” Smith said.
“Time and money is also a way to give, and of course ideas are always welcome.” he added.
Many community members of all ages are involved with the organization.
Smith said, “People don’t realize how fundamentally easy it is to be involved. Showing up is the hurdle many don’t get over.”
“You don’t have to be an actor – we need builders, there are many committees, parties, ticket duties, etc. There are truly a million ways to get involved, and we would be overjoyed to see more members of the community at the theatre,” Smith said.
For the Kids
For more than twenty years children’s programming each June has been a large portion and mission of what the theatre provides to the community. “Project P.L.A.Y.” has grown from a relatively small program in its early years to now regularly featuring short one-acts often written by or even directed by the students involved, with recent participation numbers as high as 80 students.
For more than two decades, this weeks-long program has been introducing area youth to live performing and artistic creativity – with no charge for participation.
The summer of 2022 will reintroduce that tradition to likely more than 75 local children at SCT.
Smith says being downtown has really added to the curb appeal of the local theatre. “Foot traffic since the creation of local businesses like 929 and other retailers has really helped people notice that we are here and offer the entertainment that we do,” said Smith.
For information on tickets, how to get involved, or any other additional details regarding the Starkville Community Theatre, email [email protected].
You may also learn more about the SCT through their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts.
“Smoke on the Mountain” show dates are September 23 – October 3, 2021.