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July 7, 2000

Stagecoach Community Theatre, now celebrating its 25th anniversary, got its start after an organizational meeting the night of March 18, 1975. A few men and women gathered in the Presbyterian church Fellowship Hall that night and wound up by deciding to stage a production of "Oklahoma!" for their first offering. They elected a temporary board of directors to work out the details of a constitution and by-laws and to draw up articles of incorporation. The interim board consisted of Jim Garvey, chairman; Steve Smallwood, Myrna Duncan, Henry M. Steiner and Jennifer Cole.

After accepting the suggestion of "Oklahoma!" for their maiden venture, the group began assigning responsibilities. Smallwood, the PHS speech and drama teacher, agreed to be director, assisted by Mrs. Duncan. Steiner (who we later learned had some, actual professional experience) was business manager. Publicity was to be the duty of Marge Martin. Laura Beers and Emaline Miller agreed to handle props. The PHS Thespians were to be in charge of lighting. Costumes were the responsibility of Judy Harnden and Carol Welch. Cindy Tomlinson and Beverly Boyd were in charge of makeup, Carolyn McLemore was to provide ushers and Wilma Smith was named to head the hospitality committee.

Auditions for the first play were scheduled on a weekend and an enthusiastic group turned out for casting. Here are those chosen for that historic event: John McLemore, Curly McLain; Peggy Rymer, Laurey Williams; Julia Payne, Aunt Eller; Melinda Corporon, Ado Annie; Larry Longan, Jud Fry; Robert Graves, Carves; Gerald Payne, Ali Hakim; Carolyn McLemore, Gertie Cummins; Steve Parker, Will Miller; Lance Miller, Cord Elam; and Harold Long, Ike Skidmore.

Other characters were to be played by Sheryl Mandeville, Myrna Niles, Patty Hollander Jennifer Cole, Marilyn Monus, Dortha Render, Ruth Tipps, Willa Stover, Karen Perry, Debbie Judd, Laura Beers, Fred Beers, Kathi Kitchen, Linda Rogers, Gene Kirby, Mike Ennis, Bruce Self, Dr. Charles Martin, Maxine Endicott, Karen Grim, Carol Welch, Mrs. Richard Courtney and Nadine Lee.

Dance numbers were to be provided by Amy Albertson, Michelle Macias, LaVeryl Seat and Kim Powers. Mary Rymer was stage director, and Bernice Schieffer, Marge Martin, Julia Payne and Avian Bear were to be in charge of arrangements for music.

In the midst of all these preparations for the play, the newly launched theater association took steps toward a permanent organization. In a meeting at the high school, the group formally chose a name - Stagecoach Community Theatre. They reckoned it would be a learning experience on the stage for all of them, and the name. "Stagecoach" seemed to embody that concept. Plus, it lent itself to a distinct logo, or symbol, that could be used in many ways. The choice of names now appears to be one of the best and most lasting benefits coming out of the organizational period. Next: Our first night is spoiled by the weather.