Sep 16  The Natchez Little Theatre

Sep 16 The Natchez Little Theatre

Your Natchez History Minute is brought to
you by Natchez National Historical Park. The Natchez Theatrical Association, an amateur
group, was functioning as early as 1808, only two years after the performance in the City
Tavern of “The Provoked Husband,” the earliest known professional play to be given
in English west of the Alleghenies. In 1808 the Association fitted up an old Spanish
hospital near the present site of Rosalie but by 1812, the organization had built its
own theater, seating 500, on the bluff at the northern end of the old parade ground. Admission charges were $1.00, with children
admitted at half price. When the playhouse was enlarged in 1819 to
provide box seats for season ticket holders, a bar was added as well. Throughout the 1800’s riverboat shows stopped
and performed. Natchez welcomed such actors and performers
as Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth; Jenny Lind, acclaimed operatic soprano;
and William S. Hart, America’s first western movie star. Even Sara Bernhard appeared here at the Baker
Grand in 1917. In 1932, a group of local citizens met to
organize The Little Theatre of Natchez, making this the oldest community theater in the state
of Mississippi. Their first production was a one-act play,
The Florist, which had been performed earlier in the 1920’s. The Natchez Little Theatre was organized and
incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1948 and shows were held at the Braden
School auditorium. In 1969, Natchez Little Theatre under Board
President Jack Millstein purchased the Wesley Methodist Church at 319 Linton Avenue. Mayweather Hall, the former parsonage next
door, and a lot on Maple Street were added to the theatre’s property acquisitions. The first play produced at Natchez Little
Theatre’s present home was Murder, My Sweet Matilda. Since 1932, Natchez Little Theatre has produced
over 500 plays for over 800,000 international patrons. Natchez Little Theatre is the most active
charitable non-profit volunteer community theater in the nation playing to annual audiences
of over 23,000 from around the world. Hi, I’m Layne Taylor, Natchez Little Theatre’s
Artistic and Executive Director, waiting for my next close up and this has been your Natchez
History Minute.

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