Springfield Little Theatre calls itself the “Crown Jewel of the Ozarks” and the quality of productions it puts on every season certainly lives up to that title.
The Landers Theatre in downtown Springfield, Missouri.
“We are the oldest and largest community theatre in the state of Missouri,” said Chuck Rogers, scenic designer and co-technical director for Springfield Little Theatre. “This building, the historic Landers Theatre, alone, is worth a trip to come see a SLT production. It’s an old 1909 restored vaudeville theatre that, 110 years later, is doing what it was intended to do and that is house live productions.”
While the Landers Theatre does add to the SLT experience, there’s no doubt the talent and love for the arts is what makes it come alive. Standing on stage just minutes before the curtain rises on Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5: The Musical,” Rogers, who is directing the production, gives a pep talk to the cast and crew who have spent months preparing. They break and minutes later, the curtain rises as the iconic notes to Parton’s song “9 to 5” fills the theater to the delight of the crowd.
A scene from Dolly Parton's "9 to 5: The Musical." at the Landers Theatre in Springfield, Missouri.
Kris Langston, who plays Violet, one of the leads in the production, is a ten-year veteran of SLT and her passion for theatre shows in her performance and spirit.
“I love being on this stage and I love looking out and just seeing the entire audience and this beautiful gorgeous theatre right in the middle of Springfield, Missouri,” she said.
Langston said in the ten years she’s performed with SLT, the quality of the shows has improved exponentially.
“From set design, to sound and costuming, the quality really has reached a whole new level,” she said. “I know that is something the SLT has been striving for — to put on the best possible production they could.”
The standing ovation at the end of “9 to 5: The Musical” proves the company has met what they’ve been striving for, as does the crowd reaction to a later production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.” where young actors dazzled the audience with a song and dance rendition of the classic scene featuring the song “Be our Guest.”
A scene from "Beauty and the Beast, Jr." at the Landers Theatre in Springfield, Missouri.
Rogers said working with talented actors at a young age is critical to the SLT mission.
“I think the thing that has grown the most is our education program,” said Rogers. “It is such a tremendous part of why we exist.”
SLT puts on an average of 10 shows per season, including at least two performed by young talent. Tickets can be purchased at the Landers Theatre Box Office or at springfieldlittletheatre.org.
Springfield Little Theatre’s 2017-2018 season runs through June 2018. Here are the remaining productions for the 2017-2018 season:
March 22 -April 8
“How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying”
“All Shook Up”