GALLERY: ‘Mississippi’s Oldest Community Theater’ Celebrates 90th Anniversary – Mississippi’s Best Community Newspaper

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NATCHEZ – About 50 people joined the Natchez Little Theater open house celebration on Saturday night for the 90e anniversary.

Established in 1932, the Natchez Little Theater is the oldest community theater in Mississippi, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said during the presentation Saturday of a proclamation of achievement at the Natchez Little Theater. NLT’s first production was a one-act play called “The Florist”, performed earlier in the 1920s, he said.

This play was revived on Saturday for the anniversary celebration by two veteran actors, Bennie Boone and Rusty Jenkins, and directed by Judy Wiggins.

NLT has meant a lot to generations of Natchez families, said NLT board member Peirce Beach.

Her father, Jerry Beach, became involved with the NLT in 1964 while still housed in the old Braden School on Homochitto Street, Peirce said. Much later, Peirce’s son Addison joined NLT with his first performance in “Shrek the Musical”, at which point Peirce became more involved as a board member. Growing up in the 1970s, Peirce said he didn’t have the opportunity to act like his son did because most plays all had adult actors. However, he remembers seeing his father perform backstage.

“Coming here is like being a kid again because it brings back so many memories of being here with this man,” Peirce said, pointing to Jerry Beach. “It also allows me to create memories with this future man,” he said, pointing to Addison.

A silent auction was held on Saturday to support future productions and essential maintenance of the building.

It takes $3,000 to $4,000 for the theater to put on a single play, said Nicole Harris, who is both a performer and an NLT board member.

The theater tries to make up for that with tickets, but that doesn’t leave much room for building maintenance, she said. The main needs of the building are a new roof and a new air conditioning unit. The small, nonprofit, volunteer-supported theater depends entirely on donations, ticket sales and membership dues, she said.

“We may have to raise ticket prices, but if we do, we’ll have student prices and things like that,” Harris said. “It’s something we discussed at our board meetings. We want to be fair and still have money to take care of the things we need to take care of.

Saturday night’s festivities also included three musical selections, two from the latest show presented by NLT, James and the Giant Peach, and one from an upcoming production “Little Shop of Horrors”, which will be played August 18-21.

To inquire about tickets and memberships, call 601-442-2233, email [email protected] or visit the NLT website thenatchezlittletheatre.com.

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