By Randall Hartzog, Director of Marketing and Communications –
Theatre Memphis is one of the oldest, continuously operating community theaters in the country. With nearly a century’s worth of history, the most recent past 50 years have showcased and expanded on the success of the first 50 years.
Having been born of a dream to create a small theater company, the community supported and encouraged performances produced from random meeting halls to a stable to the swimming pool of an abandoned mansion, the Pink Palace (which served as a permanent home for decades). As colorful as that history is, the vision and growth to be a powerhouse in the arts in the area began in 1970 as plans were put in place to design, fund and build a state of the art facility that stands today as a monument to artistic excellence and community involvement. Theatre Memphis currently produces up to 12 shows a year between the 400+ seat, proscenium Lohrey Stage and the 100 seat, black box Next Stage.
Through the 1970’s and 80’s membership increased rapidly and artistic productions and educational programs were added to accommodate the participation of audience, participants and community. Led by Executive Director Sherwood Lohrey from the 60’s through the 90’s, Debbie Litch was brought on as Executive Producer in 2004 and has since been the leader of the theater to take Theatre Memphis to higher levels, staff additions and innovative updates to keep the theater state-of-the-art and relevant. A Board of Directors numbering between 30 and 40 continues to guide Theatre Memphis as a leader in the arts community in Memphis.
National, regional and local awards have been lauded on Theatre Memphis for not only its quality of production (both creative and technical) but also for its financial stability and community involvement. The past 50 years have built on the previous 50-year foundation to ensure at least another 100 years when we will be showcasing area talent and entertaining the masses.