Fort Smith Little Theatre opens its 71st season Feb. 14. It is, its members believe, the oldest continuously operating all-volunteer community theater in Arkansas.
"I believe the primary factor is that we are 100 percent volunteer," Valerie Valentine, chairman of the production committee, says of the company's success. "Everything is done by people who just love theater and want FSLT to be successful. It is a group effort to keep the theater strong, and so we all work hard to ensure audiences continue to want to support the theater."
The process of choosing a season starts by asking eligible directors to submit shows for consideration, Valentine says.
"So the directors submit the shows, and we discuss our options from there. There is a committee that reads the scripts and makes a recommendation to the board for the season, and then the board votes on the season.
"We like variety -- but we do lean toward comedies," she admits. "We usually only do one drama each season and one musical. Then we try to ensure we have variety of styles and time periods for the different shows.
"FSLT is a unique theater experience," Valentine adds, encouraging newcomers to try it out. "Our stage is smaller and the seating is close, so you are right in the action! You can feel every emotion and really feel like you are part of the story. It is a very special place."
Scheduled as mainstage productions for 2019 are:
"Happily Ever After: A Wedding Comedy"
Eric Wells, director
Feb. 14-17 & 20-23
Synopsis: Moments before her wedding, Francie is hiding in the church nursery, convinced her destiny is with another man -- if he ever wakes up from his coma.
Director's comments: "I originally was not going submit a show for the 2019 season because of working full time and being in college. I was looking at scripts for giggles, though, to see if I could find something that could change my mind, and this little gem popped up."
Micki Voelkel, director
April 4-7 & 10-13
Synopsis: Benjamin, a recent college grad, is depressed. When his parents' friend, Mrs. Robinson, seduces him, a torrid affair begins. But complications arise when he falls for his dream girl, Elaine, who happens to be Mrs. Robinson's daughter. It's California in the 1960s.
"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
Summer Robinson, director
June 6-9 & 12-15
Synopsis: A charming criminal, Randle, chooses what he thinks will be a short sentence in a mental institution to avoid hard labor. Big mistake. Nurse Ratchet runs the psych ward with an inflexible iron fist. Randle gains the trust and friendship of other patients, but he pays a heavy price for his rebellion.
"Disney's Beauty and the Beast"
Director Carole Rogers; music director George Mann
July 25-28, Aug. 1-3 & 8-10
Synopsis: Belle, an intelligent young woman in a provincial French town, encounters the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.
Director's comments: "George Mann, music director, has wanted to do 'Beauty and the Beast' for a long time," says Carole Rogers. "We tried twice and couldn't get rights. Rights [are] available now, and he asked me to do stage direction. It is a huge undertaking. We already have a wardrobe committee and are designing costumes. I am very excited and think it has the potential to be one of the best musicals ever done at FSLT. But it definitely will be a challenge!"
Duff Taylor, director
Sept. 19-22 & 25-28
Synopsis: A wealthy but crude businessman, on a trip to the nation's capital, is socially embarrassed by his ditzy, uncultured showgirl blonde girlfriend. He hires a reporter to "teach her the ropes," a decision he later regrets. This well-written script was the basis for a popular movie in 1950 and a remake in 1993.
Director's comments: "I had a friend, Jim Moody, who directed me in this show, the first show I was in in 1985. He had planned to direct a play this year but had some health issues and had to step away from directing. I asked him of the shows he'd directed, which one he'd like to see again."
"Miracle on 34th Street"
Brandon Bolin, director
Nov. 7-10 & 13-16
Synopsis: An elderly man, claiming to be Kris Kringle, takes a job at Macy's as Santa Claus. Unleashing waves of good will, he appears to be deluded and eventually faces a court competency hearing. Especially at stake is one little girl's belief in Santa.
Director's comments: "I decided to submit the play 'Miracle on 34th Street' because it has long been one of my favorite Christmas films. It will be a wonderful way for families to enjoy an hour or two at the theater together with a well-known story and characters that everyone will know and connect with."
Season tickets are $60-$120 at 783-2966 or fslt.org.
Also scheduled are off-season productions "A Perfect Likeness: Carroll Photographs Dickens," April 25-27, and "Best Christmas Pageant Ever," Dec. 5-7. Tickets are $7 each at the door.
NAN What's Up on 01/06/2019
Print Headline: Lots Of Laughs, A Little Drama