Photo: Lamp-Lite artists play around on the theatre stage. Pictured from left are Beverly DeWitt Murphy, Gerry Peacock and Doris Hicks.
Photos by Kelly Daniel.
Playing valuable role in community
By Kelly Daniel
For more than four decades Lamp-Lite Theatre has produced quality entertainment for the community that is made possible and supported by the people of Nacogdoches.
“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Lamp-Lite Theater to the cultural life of Nacogdoches. The physical design and atmosphere of the theater reminds me of playhouses on the East Coast.” Bill King, president/CEO, Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp. said.
Pictured above - Lamp-Lite volunteers stand at the theatre’s box office. Pictured from left are Scarlett Sloane, Sarah McMullan, Lynn Teague, Bill Small and Guy Hicks.
According to Gerry Peacock who is involved in set construction and stage management, “our theater is an outstanding example of live theater that very few communities have, and I think it adds a facet to the aura of Nacogdoches.”
Many of the Lamp-Lite volunteers agree with King and Peacock that the theatre is a cultural gem that makes the city shine. In addition to the theater’s performance entertainment, the business contributes to the local economy.
“One of the most important features is that Lamp-Lite Theatre draws a lot of people from the East Texas area into our community,” board member Lynn Teague said. “They come for dinner, they come for the theater, and they may even buy a little gas to get home.”
To theatre Founder/Artistic/Managing Director Sarah McMullan, the establishment of community theatre in Nacogdoches was certain. “I think that every town needs a theater, and new people coming in to town will ask if there is a theater,” she said. “So I think it is essential that we have a community theater to entertain us, to enlighten us, to inspire us and also for participation. When I moved here, the first thing I wanted to know was ‘is there a theater?’ And there was not. So we put one here.”
Theatre was already in McMullan’s blood with acting and directing experience in high school, and she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater from the University of Southern Mississippi. Before settling in Nacogdoches, she had founded the Hattiesburg Little Theatre in Mississippi and served as arts/entertainment editor of the Hattiesburg American.
Surrounding each live performance are weeks of preparation, cooperation including rehearsals and stage work among the volunteers. Lamp-Lite Theatre offers residents opportunities to exercise talents in construction, design, costuming, management, technical production, public relations and of course, acting.
Retiree Guy Hicks enjoys the volunteer activity and said community theater is a must for better quality of life. He said after finding a church home, he and his family wanted to see what type of entertainment was available in the Nacogdoches area. “The first thing that we found was the Lamp-Lite Theatre,” Hicks said. “We attended our first show in early 1989 and from that time on, we’ve been very active in attending the shows and then later, being involved in the theatre itself.”
Hicks’ transition from audience to participant is not unique for many Lamp-Lite volunteers. With the open door policy to auditioning, supporting, participation and attending performances, residents can enjoy the Lamp-Lite Theatre in many ways.
“There are an awful lot of talented performers – singers, actors, set designers, etc. – living in our community and Lamp-Lite is the perfect vehicle to bring these folks together for an evening (or a Sunday afternoon) of fun and entertainment,” King said. “And you can’t beat the prices. Season tickets cost less than what you’d spend for a single performance in a major metro area, and the parking is free. My wife Linda and I always look forward to each and every new show.”
Artist Doris Hicks sums up the theater “as an important thing to Nacogdoches, because all people, no matter what race or rank, can come together and just have a good time.”
Lamp-Lite Theatre is located at 4210 Lamp-Lite Ln. Phone number is (936) 560-4662. More information about the theatre’s history and performances may be found at www.lamplitetheatre.org.
The theatre’s 42nd Season of Excitement includes the following performances:
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”
“Mornings at Seven”
“Love, Loss & What I Wore”
“A Streetcar Named Desire”
“Daddy’s Dying, Who’s Got the Will?”
Testimony by theatre volunteer Beverly DeWitt Murphy
I started painting at the Lamp-Lite in 1995.
John Weigel was my mentor and helped teach me how to paint the scenery as it should be painted to make the biggest impact for the play. I have to say that it has been a wonderful experience for me. I feel very good about being able to use my artistic abilities to paint the sets for the high quality plays that are performed at the Lamp-Lite. I have made many lasting friends from all walks of life.
I thank Sarah McMullen for all of this. She has done a great service to our town by providing quality entertainment for all. People like the fact that Nacogdoches has a theatre.
The greatest thing is everyone in our town has a chance to be a "star" in some way. Be it working to get the set built and painted, rehearsing and acting in the play, working on the sidelines doing the lighting, concession, getting the programs printed, advertising the coming performance - whatever. Everyone has some talent to provide for the Lamp-Lite to keep the "great performances going." And the shows definitely compare to the larger theatres in the larger towns and cities all over this great country!