The Show Must Go On
Nancy Blochburger at the new ticket window with volunteers Shannon Stoddard and Bruce Birkhead.
Patrons of the Fort Smith Little Theatre will soon enjoy a new “set” that isn’t on the stage but will enhance their theater-going experience. Over the last year, the lobby has undergone a design transformation that will debut with White Christmas in November and the newly announced 2013-14 season. A program of six shows including comedy, mystery, romance and music and three off-season productions are planned.
After performing in the 200-seat theater in the Belle Grove Historic District for 27 years, the all-volunteer group has completed a carefully planned and patiently executed renovation. While the lobby and ticket office are the most visible refreshment, space also was cleverly gained for needed set and costume storage and critical technical upgrades were made behind the scenes, explained Nancy Blochburger, who served as the theater’s project liaison with Gaylon Hunter of MAHG Architecture and Crawford Construction.
As important as the visible changes, the theater also preserved and illuminated its history as the state’s oldest continuously operating community theater. In the center of the lobby and visible from through an arched window stands the Harlequin Man, the figure of an actor rendered in stained glass. The sculpture has symbolized the Fort Smith Little Theatre since it was displayed on North O Street outside the previous Little Theatre.
Collages of dynamic photos from past plays are arranged in the lobby where flat-screen monitors also display slideshows of many more images of past and current productions. All the cast photos that once hung on the walls have now been safely digitally archived to preserve the history of the long-running theater’s accomplishments, Blochburger noted.
Photos and play programs dating back to the founding of theater in 1947 have been collected and published on the website fslt.org. Hundreds of actors and volunteers have participated over the years and some of these photographs have not been seen for ages, she said.
Opening night galas with champagne and hors d’oeuvres will be made more gracious with added lobby seating and a few new café tables in the widened wings that lead to the theater doors. The overall efficiency of the organizations will be enhanced by installation of new climate control, some exterior improvements and renovation of the restrooms, business office, light booth and box office.
A new curtain time, 7:30 p.m., will apply through this season. An extra matinee has been added to the schedule in reponse to demand.
Season tickets including every performance are $100 per person for Gala Opening Night tickets; regular season tickets are $55 per person and can be purchased starting in November, by phone and online at 479-783-2966 or fslt.org.
Fort Smith Little Theatre 2013-14 Season
Dixie Swim Club Directed by Angela Covey
Five Southern Belles from a college swim team unite every August away from men, kids and work. Friendship remains, laughter prevails.
Boeing, Boeing Directed by Suzanne Thomas
A romantic comedy for adults set in the 1960s. An American in Paris has three fiancees – all stewardesses for TWA – who don’t know.
Leading Ladies Directed by Duff Taylor
When two British actors with empty pockets plan to dishonestly claim an inheritance, complications ensue.
July 31-Aug. 10
9 to 5: The Musical Directed by George Mann and Dwight Curry
Rollicking music and lyrics written by Dolly Parton score this revenge comedy of three women vs. their unbearably sexist boss.
Splendor in the Grass Directed by Jill Moody-Ledbetter
This adaptation of the 1961 movie plays out the ill-fated, passionate romance of a wealthy high school athlete and his less-privileged girlfriend.
A Talent for Murder Directed by Melissa Vitale
A wealthy writer lives in a mansion filled with valuable art, her physician, relatives and an ex-con, all the elements of a murder mystery. Who done it?
FSLT will also stage Make Believe, Nightfall with Edgar Allan Poe and Gift of the Magi as off-season productions.