Silsbee, Texas: A place to view outstanding plays.
Ask any one in Silsbee or in Southeast Texas for that matter, “what the hottest ticket in town is,” you will hear repeatedly “an evening with friends at the Silsbee Little Theater’s annual spring dinner theater production.”
The Silsbee Little Theater has an extraordinary reputation in southeast Texas for the plays the organization produces and for the great talent of local community actors who appear on its stage.
The 30th annual spring dinner production, will be in the year 2000, but Little Theater has been in business long before that. Put together totally by volunteers, the annual spring production has become a hot ticket in Southeast Texas with nightly performances sold out in advance.
Many of the 400 theater members who are not out in front of the lights work behind the scenes on the production each year. More than 200 cook and serve the meals; direct the play; design and build the sets; manage the lights and sound; sell the tickets; greet the guests; work on makeup and wardrobe and provide live music each evening.
The organization had its beginning in 1965 when members of the Silsbee Public Library Board saw a need for a community theater which would foster cultural development in the city. Once the charter and by-laws were in place, meetings were held in the board room at Silsbee State Bank.
“You Can’t Take It With You,” a comedy, was the organization’s first production in 1967. Then came “An Inspector Calls,” “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” “The Mouse Trap,” and “Luv” all produced on stage at the Silsbee Junior High auditorium. “Tunnel of Love,” “Come Live With Me,” and “Blythe Spirit” followed as dinner theater productions held at the Silsbee country Club.
Because of the need for more space and a larger stage, in 1973 a fund raiser was held and “Friends of the Theater” donated $5,000 to the organization to purchase the Knights of Columbus Lodge Hall in downtown Silsbee, the Theater’s current home. With help from Temple-Inland, which donated chairs and tables, and some funding for stage lights, and a donation of an old stage curtain from the Junior High School, the membership moved into its new permanent location on North Sixth Street. The first play presented in the new quarters was a melodrama entitled “Love Rides the Rails.”
Several notable highlights of past seasons, still remembered by long-time members, includes in 1978 when the actor starring “Not With My Daughter” became ill after several performances. After much pleading by the SLT president, the play’s author agreed to fly in from Philadelphia and step into the role. He was put up at a member’s home and on closing night received several standing ovations, a Proclamation, and a “key to the city.”
Article contributed by The Silsbee Bee.