In the spring of 1976, around six to eight people interested in forming a community theatre in Paris met with the drama instructor at Paris Junior College. An open meeting was scheduled, notice went out, and a short time later the first organizational meeting of PCT was held in the PJC auditorium with three or four dozen in attendance. Officers were selected, and it was decided that the first production should have a large cast—the larger the cast, the more family and friends will attend. Up the Down Staircase was chosen and was performed in July, 1976.
From its inception until early in 1981, all performances were on the Paris Junior College stage, except for a dinner theatre melodrama, Dirty Work at the Crossroads, which was performed at the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall. In the fall of 1980, the Board decided to hire an artistic/managing director. A young man fresh out of drama school at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M—Commerce) was hired. Over the next several months he directed two of the three plays produced, the latter being produced for the TNT (Texas Nonprofit Theatre) contest.
Early in 1981, the Board purchased the Plaza Theatre on the square for $65,000. The Plaza Theatre closed as a movie house in late 1973 or 1974. Over the next several years it had been the venue for a few different musical entertainment groups, and a 24 by 24 foot “stage” elevated about four feet above the floor had been built where the front rows of the movie theatre had previously been. For its first four years, PCT produced plays at the Plaza on the stage, with its limited space and dungeon-like, cubby-hole backstage. The only play performed elsewhere during this time was the November, 1981, musical, I Do! I Do!, which was performed as dinner theatre in the First Christian Church Fellowship Hall.
Early in 1985, the Theatre was renovated. Up to that time there was no way to get from backstage to the green room, the costume and dressing rooms, and the makeup room without going out the back door, down the sidewalk, in the front door, and up the stairs to the balcony. The upstairs raked seating had been removed, and the dressing room was still another flight up from the balcony in the old movie projection room.
With the renovation, a runway was built along the east wall from the balcony to backstage to a spiral staircase, which is still in use. A few more rows of seats were removed, and the stage and backstage spaces were removed and replaced by a wall-to-wall stage about one foot above the auditorium floor. During this year the plays were produced at other venues. Annie and Kiss, Me Kate! were performed on the Paris High School Auditorium stage. These two musicals presented an interesting problem, since the stage had to be used by the high school drama department during school hours. So for both musicals the sets were constructed on wheels or as individual portable set pieces, so that they could be “struck” after every rehearsal, and indeed after every performance, for the run of the play. One of the plays that year was performed on the PJC stage, one in the Calvary Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, and the last play, Night of January 16th, in the 6th District Court Room of the Lamar County Court House. The first play on the new stage, The Sunshine Boys, was performed in May, 1986. All of the plays since that time have been produced on this stage.
July, 2005, marked the 29th anniversary of the first PCT production. In these 29 years, PCT has had 141 productions. The season runs from early fall to summer and consists, in most years, of five productions, including at least one musical. Some “heavy” plays have been produced, including The Glass Menagerie, Macbeth, Agnes of God, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Miracle Worker, A Streetcar Named Desire, Of Mice and Men, and The Eccentricities of a Nightingale. The audience, however, seems to appreciate more the thrillers, like Wait Until Dark, Count Dracula, Deathtrap, The Mousetrap, Dial ”M” for Murder, Sleuth, Rehearsal for Murder, Angel Street, and Corpse!.
By far the most enjoyed productions have been the musicals. Over its 29, years PCT has produced the following musicals: Mame (twice), A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (twice), Fiddler on the Roof (twice), I Do! I Do! (twice), Camelot, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (twice), Annie (twice), Kiss Me Kate, Cabaret, Oklahoma, Cotton Patch Gospel, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Once Upon a Mattress, Nunsense, The Sound of Music (twice), My Fair Lady, Nunsense II, Brigadoon, Gypsy,The Music Man, Annie Get your Gun, Forever Plaid (twice), Nunsense Jamboree, Nuncrackers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Guys and Dolls, Little Shop of Horrors, Bye Bye Birdie, and Into the Woods.
And last, but not least, Paris Community Theatre has produced over six dozen comedies. You can see a complete list of past performances on the Gallery of Past Shows link.
|Dr. Ross Alsup||Hal Bratteli||Gladys Hendren Dennis||Curtis Groves|
|Dr. Harold Hunt||David Koelling||Mrs. Bob McDougall||Jose Plata|
|Gwyn Anson||Dr. David C. Brock||Jerry Edwards||Marilla C. Hamm|
|James Jackson||Mrs. Herb Koelling||Roscoe McGuyer||June Preston|
|Edward Atkins||Carol Brown||Susan Fagan||Becky Haning|
|Nancy Jessee||Bill Lancaster||Mrs. Charles McMillan||Dr. John Rogers|
|Dr. Charles Beachley||Karen Clark||Devra Fox||Katherine Payne Harville|
|Virginia Jessee||Dennis Lee||Linda McWhirter||Laura Sharrock|
|Joan Beachley||Tom Clark||William Gandy||W. T. Harrell|
|Ray Karrer||Bill Lightfoot||Mrs. Jean McWhirter||Sheryl Sullivan|
|Zoan S. Biglin||Mrs. A. W. Clem, IV||Thomas Gartland||Reeves Hayter|
|W. A. Kennedy||Hilda Mallory||Mrs. Bill Murphy||Wanda Walker|
|Sally Boswell||Mrs. Jack Coker||Joann Gribble||Garvey House|
|Mrs. Robert Kennemer||Dr. Lawrence Mann||Spencer O’Connor||Steve Willsey|
|Judge Henry Braswell||James Davis||Henry Griffin||W. M. House, Jr.|
|Kerri Beth King||Kellye Lee McDougal||Vicki Oglesby||Esther Wu|