Born in 1948, Portsmouth Little Theatre’s first show was “My Sister Eileen”, directed by Barbara Robinson Webb (name ring a bell? The Best Christmas Pageant Ever) and auditions were held at the Portsmouth High School Auditorium. In fact, the auditorium was home to the organization for several years. The set for that first show was built in volunteers’ garages. Charter memberships were sold at $5.00.
Doc Metro’s Strand movie house on Lawson went up for sale, and the newly formed non-profit organization purchased the building. Standing proudly at the corner of Lawson Street and 12th Street or St Rt 52 West, the theatre has seen close to six decades of dramas, comedies and musicals. The first PLT production in the Lawson Street location was “Dirty Work at the Crossroads” starring Harold Micklethwaite and Anna Louise Stanton. Audience members, Theatre patrons and volunteers had familiar names like Oberling, Marting, Compton and Gulker. Local businesses donated props. Businesses like Kresge, Keystone Printing, WPAY and more. How times have changed. How they’ve stayed the same!
Portsmouth Little Theatre always has and will rely on the citizens of Portsmouth for it’s lifeblood. Whether you are an actor, a business owner or just someone who likes to be entertained, we need you. We need new faces and old reliable ones. We need our local businesses to support us and lend us props once in a while! We need some volunteers to make sets in their garages! Then as now, the theatre is in constant need of upkeep. The physical location and the organization is a treasure for the area.
One of my favorite lines from the first program for “My Sister Eileen” September 21 & 22, 1948, is:
We need a suitable place for our actors and actresses to rehearse. If you know of any such quarters we may use, PLEASE call: Mrs. Heinrich, 1284-M. Our need is urgent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, our need is always urgent. Many things have remained the same on our stage over the last 60 years!