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 Church.
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 which resulted in the warehouse theatre being declared in a flood plain. For the next year, the Lamp-Liters went on the road with dinner theatre productions at the University and at local 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 theatre, board by board and brick by brick, to reassemble, add to, and finally raise the Lamp-Lite Theatre. The lights went on May 19, 1979, with The Last of the Red Hot Lovers opening the new theatre. Built almost entirely by volunteer labor and a few generous professionals, the theatre 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. Another grant from Southland Pineywoods and matched locally, upgraded our sound equipment.
The present intimate auditorium comfortably seats 216. Each row is elevated above the one in front so that every seat in the house is a good seat. Area artists and photographers exhibit in the lobby for each show, while other scenic artists, painters, carpenters, etc. create an ever changing panorama as settings for the plays. 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 Musicwere brought back as perennial favorites, and Lamp-Lite introduced Bye Bye Birdie, Anne of Green Gables, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Seussical the Musical and Annie Warbucks to East Texas audiences.
Volunteers join the ever-broadening number of participants of the community theatre, acting on-stage, running lights, building and painting sets, making music, dancing, parking cars, working the box office, ushering, putting together publications, mail-outs, grant applications, benefits. "It’s all part of the show at Lamp-Lite,” said Lamp-Lite Director, Sarah McMullan.
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, Christmas plays, and mystery dinner theatres are icing on the cake.