MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 19, 2013

MLT seeks to provide theater opportunities to all

By Rebecca Walkup
Nonprofit Buzz

— The Muskogee Little Theatre originated in 1972 when Sequoyah Elementary was torn down. A group of local citizens purchased the land and converted the school cafetorium at the intersection of Cincinnati and D streets into a theater.

A key part of the organization’s mission is “to reach out to the underserved in our community in order to provide opportunities and appreciation of the theater and performing arts to ALL.” The Muskogee Little Theatre makes it a priority to produce plays and musicals that are well known and appeal to people, not obscure unfamiliar titles. Additionally, outreach programs ensure that everyone in the community has an opportunity to experience theater as audience members or by performing on stage.

The corporate sponsorship program brings many area citizens to the theater. Every show is sponsored by a local business or organization. The sponsor pays a fee to cover the licensing of the show, and the final dress rehearsal for the show is reserved for the sponsoring organization. The sponsor can provide free tickets to the dress rehearsal to anyone they want. Some businesses use the free tickets to reward their employees or for a business meeting. Muskogee Rotary sponsors a show every year as part of their membership drive.

Each year, special performances are held for at-risk youth and people with disabilities. One free performance is reserved for students from the Oklahoma School for the Blind. A special free performance also is offered for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and their families.

“One of the things I’m most proud of about our theater is our accessibility,” said Executive Director Coni Wetz.

In addition to accessibility efforts, the Muskogee Little Theatre has many educational programs including youth summer camps and free weekend workshops to teach technical production skills such as lighting and set building in addition to acting and vocal music. Private voice and acting lessons are offered for all ages, and vocal music students perform in two recitals each year. Scholarships are available for fee-based programs through the June Edmondson Scholarship program, which is funded by donations received from audiences at the intermission of each production. For the last six years, every person who has applied has received a scholarship.  

Muskogee Little Theatre presents three to seven plays each season starting in July and ending in June with a “MILTIES” Award Night Banquet where awards are presented to the best director, actor, actress, character role, and production. Other special awards are given.

Upcoming productions include the youth production of “Godspell” the last week in June and “Rent” in August. To encourage tourism in Muskogee, big productions are held in conjunction with the Azalea Festival in April and the Garden of Lights in December. This year’s Christmas play will be “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

For information about the Muskogee Little Theatre: (918) 683-5332.

To recommend an organization or program for an upcoming column, reach Rebecca Walkup at (918) 683-4600 or rwalkup@nbn-nrc.org.