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In 1971, Lamp-Lite Theatre began life in the rented parish hall of Christ Episcopal Church. Drawing from the dense pool of local talent, Sarah McMullan put together a troupe of actors who brought first rate productions to the tiny stage at Christ Episcopal.
In 1976, the Lamp-Liters joined with other artists in the area to form the City Spirit Arts Center out of the old Phelan Warehouse. Mother Nature brought torrential rains and floods during the seventies that resulted in the warehouse theatre being declared a flood plain. For the next year, the Lamp-Liters went on the road with dinner theater productions at the University and at other restaurants. Meanwhile, the City of Nacogdoches offered a land lease for the new theatre home, our present location on Loop 224 and Old Tyler Road.
Actors and friends took down the old warehouse theater, board-by-board and brick-by-brick, to reassemble, add to and, finally, raise the current Lamp-Lite Theatre building. The lights went on May 19, 1979, with The Last of the Red Hot Lovers opening the new theater. Built almost entirely by volunteer labor and a few generous professionals, the theater has steadily grown. New wings were added: dressing rooms, storage space, etc. Grants from the Meadows Foundation, Temple-Inland, Southland Pineywoods, and the Junior Forum came just in time for sorely needed space. Lamp-Lite supporters built the costume wing, the “largest closet” in East Texas.
In 1995, Lamp-Lite started a tradition of producing a big summer family musical with a wildly successful production of Oliver! An equally popular presentation of Annie followed the next year, only to be topped by The Wizard of Oz in 1997. Both Annie, Oz and Oliver! and The Sound of Music were brought back as perennial favorites, and Lamp-Lite introduced Bye-Bye Birdie, Anne of Green Gables, Snow Whiteand the Seven Dwarfs, Seussical the Musical, Annie Warbucks and Willy Wonka to East Texas audiences.
Each season spotlights off Broadway and on Broadway musicals, comedies, dramas and occasionally a premiere presentation of an original work by a regional playwright, children’s classes and plays and Christmas plays.