August 8, 2016, Rotogram: 5

SCT – Starkville’s Award-winning Community Theatre

When Gabe Smith asked how many Rotarians had attended SCT performances, almost every hand shot up. Smith, who became the theatre’s Chief Administrative Officer (and only paid employee) last July, said this will be the 39th season SCT performances will entertain friends and neighbors from Starkville and surrounding communities. SCT’s success has to be a record since the average life-span of community theaters is 10-12 years.

“SCT is a non-profit 501c corporation. It is not a private club and membership is free.” You don’t have to be an actor; SCT needs all sorts of help – volunteers do everything from selecting plays and performing to set design and construction and taking tickets.

SCT was born in 1978 when a group of local folks interested in the arts proposed to start a community theatre. “Several of those whose names you probably recognize were Bob Wolverton, Jan Zeppelin, and the late Bob Anderson,” he said. More than 50 people responded and within 3 months SCT offered its first show, a two-person performance in the old Ramada Inn conference room.

“They really never looked back,” Smith said. “There was no permanent place to perform and it was essentially a ‘road show’ doing three shows a year into the 1980’s. in any place that would seat 100 – old store fronts, cafeterias, or hotel ballrooms.”

There usually wasn’t a stage or platform, and the audience sat on folding chairs. Bob Wolverton is credited as once saying “give us a hay wagon (for a stage) and we’ll perform!”

One experience Smith related was when the cast was performing “The Rainmaker” in the old ag center that had a tin roof. A storm came up and the sound was so loud they couldn’t finish!

The big break came in 1986, when a building on Main Street became available. The price was right, the community responded, and the two-story former department store was purchased.  It must have been a very massive

undertaking to transform that humble old building into what today is known as The Playhouse on Main that comfortably seats an audience of 90.

The first show was finally performed in 1996, After18 years, SCT had a permanent home. Smith said it was February, very cold, and there was no heat. But everyone in the audience was given a blanket and the play went on. “Audience loyalty has always been there for us,” Smith remarked.

Today, SCT has 4 shows a year in the regular season, and at least one extra offering as a fund-raiser.

Smith is no stranger to the SCT audiences. He’s been involved for 15 years as an actor, director, and volunteer. He’s excited to be in his new role.

SCT has not only entertained local audiences, its plays and performers have consistently won top awards in state, regional, and national competition.

One of its more recent services is “Project Play,” a summer workshop for kids directed by one of SCT’s best-known performers, E.J. Etua. This summer, 40 kids participated, learning to speak and appear in public.

SCT can’t exist without volunteers. The community has a wealth of talented individuals who have a passion for the arts.

Speaking from his own experience, Smith said “I’m a true believer! Live theater is a magical experience that brings people together.”

He invited Rotarians to continue to support SCT through season tickets and the patron/sponsor program. The 2016-17 season is sponsored in part by a grant from Starkville Area Arts Council, City of Starkville, and Starkville Convention Bureau.

The season opener is The Cemetery Club, a well-known romantic comedy that will play two weekends – Sept. 15-18 and 20-24.

For the Record  – August 1

Invocation and Pledge: Bryce Griffis.

Attendance:                                          61.33%

Present – 92 (39 exempt)

Absent – 90 (21 exempt, 12 honorary)

Visitors and Guests:. Visiting Rotarian was former member George McKee of the Rotary Club of Cold Creek, Colorado. Giles Jones (son of President Briar) was guest of his grandfather Shelton Jones. Club guests were Alex Onken of the Starkville Daily News and Rotary Youth Exchange Student Elisa Malzanni.

Impact of Technology

Our guest today is Roberto Gallardo Estrella of the Tech Outreach Program of the MSU Extension Service. He will discuss the impact of technology in agriculture.

Next Week: Mississippi Agriculture

Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture Cindy Hyde-Smith will be our guest speaker next Monday.

Meeting Notes:

  • President Briar extended condolences to Bob and Sallie Whiteside on the unexpected death of Sallie’s daughter, Missy Talbot, and asked Rotarians to keep Sallie, Bob, and the Talbot family in their prayers.
  • Briar called for volunteers to man Rotary’s booth at tomorrow’s MSU faculty orientation.
  • He announced meetings of the following committees: Fellowship and Student-Teacher Recognition.
  • The August Board of Directors’ meeting is tomorrow at Harvey’s (11:45 a.m.). Board members unable to attend should notify Briar or Secretary Greg Bowen.

Welcome Elisa Malzanni

Our new Rotary Youth Exchange student, who arrived Thursday, July 28, attended her first Rotary meeting and was introduced by Grant Arinder. He gave her with a welcome gift and since she speaks good English, promised to have her speak at an upcoming Rotary meeting.

Elisa is from Lecco, a small city of 14,000 in northern Italy about 30 miles from Milan in District 2042. She celebrated her 17th birthday a few days before she came to America. She has two brothers, one older who is in college and one younger who just started to high school.

Elisa’s father owns a resort on the shores of beautiful Lake Como catering to tourists, many from France and Germany. Her mother who is Mexican has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but her family is her career.

Elisa has a wide variety of interests, including skiing, aerobics, gymnastics, photography, and piano.  “But my number one passion is travel.” She has already been able to visit Turkey and a number of western European countries.

Someday she hopes to find a job that enables her to travel and learn new cultures. She likes animals and nature and would like to be a veterinarian.

Giles and Lisa Lindley are Elisa’s host family. She started classes last Thursday at Starkville High School and has already made many friends.

Please make an effort to get acquainted with this very personable young lady and, if possible, invite her to join a special family activity.

Previous post:

Next post: