In 1976 we launched our first show, a children's musical about the circus, complete with talking lion and evil magician. A cast of 18 rehearsed for about six weeks and did one show. It was a smashing success -- or at least the audience had a good time! And so did we! The next summer another original musical was birthed -- this time the cast was 50 strong, ages 7 to 75. By this time we were definitely hooked. For the next four summers we produced wacky and wild original children’s musicals, calling ourselves the Springville Children's Theater.
By 1981 we needed to expand to larger shows so that more people could participate. Though adults had always been in our kid shows, we felt ready to do a show that would appeal to all ages. Oklahoma! was chosen as the kick-off show for our expanded vision of community theater. At that point we started calling ourselves Springville Community Theater, giving up the previous name of Springville Children's Theater.
Oklahoma! just seemed to fit us -- we knew we could find guys to do rope tricks, and our accents actually worked with the country drawl in the script. We rehearsed and built sets for most of the summer, and when the curtain went up, the lights went out. Our new lighting system was smoking like "the boys in the back room." We used dry ice from the fog machine to cool it down and made it through the show by holding the ice on fuses in the electric panel. We had a great time anyway -- as we always do, and lots of new folks joined our stage-smitten group.
As the Springville Community Theater, we were doing adult shows rather than kid shows, though we were -- and still are -- dedicated to having lots of children in the shows. Over the next 35 years we produced Music Man (1982), South Pacific (1983), Peter Pan (1984), The Wizard of Oz (1987), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1993), The King and I (1997), The Sound of Music (2000), Annie Get Your Gun (2004), Beauty and the Beast (2007), Oklahoma! (2010), South Pacific (2013), and Mary Poppins (2016).
A goal was always to involve as many people as possible, so we stuck to large musicals with full orchestras. Roughly 200 people were involved in many of these shows.
Now, we like to take a few years off in between shows so that we and our hundreds of volunteers have a chance to forget what hard work this is! Then we begin to get the itch again, we gather ourselves together, study calendars and our current state of health, and decide to go for it! From that point until closing night of the show, it's a fight to the finish -- a race we dearly love.
Over the years we've developed a philosophy of our own around this theater experience. Forty-three years ago, when we began doing original children's plays in Springville, one of the main goals was for parents to see their children perform successfully and be applauded by their peers. We hoped that this experience would cause the parents to look at their children with new eyes, and this affirmation would encourage the children to strive for bigger and better things. Over the years we have expanded to large-scale shows requiring casts of all ages, and we have been astonished time and again at the personal transformations of individuals working together for a common goal.
Another part of our philosophy is that we cast everyone -- and it works! We have a particular interest in bringing first-timers to the stage -- especially children. We believe that an experience such as community theater not only fosters a positive community spirit, but it builds confidence and forges life-long friendships. As we gear up for our next magical experience, we hope you will be a part of it!
June Mack has been a playwright, theatre director, composer and choreographer for over 40 years. She has worked on more than 50 theatrical productions and 70 films.
Mack is on the faculty of the Department of Theatre at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She served as the Director of the Film Program at UAB for 15 years. Previous teaching posts include Ohio University, Florida State University Graduate Film Conservatory, and Ringling School of Art and Design. She holds degrees from Hollins College, Florida State University, and Harvard University. Mack's films have garnered 22 international awards in film festivals around the world. Her work has been seen on national television as well as festival screenings in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Slovenia and across the United States. Her latest film series, The Youth Violence Project, is currently being used by almost 300 youth agencies in 37 states and seven countries.
Calling all you veterans of our 43-year run -- not mentioning ages or anything, but we are scouring the globe for any remnants of video or audio, film or tape, to create archives of our shows. We have photos, but we also want to preserve those fragile VHS tapes, and we hear some folks even have film! We'll be very careful and return your keepsakes as soon as we've copied them. Also, please help us coax these relics from their hiding places by doing a Facebook blitz -- thanks in advance. If you come up with any leads or bread crumb trails to our history, please contact us.