A history in three acts!
The Time: January 1961
The Place: Berch residence, Owen Sound
Characters: 19 community members
Synopsis: With a small group of community citizens interested in developing and nurturing performance arts in Owen Sound on Georgian Bay, the Owen Sound Little Theatre was formed.
In the early years, the company moved from one spartan rehearsal space to another, from unheated rooms over the Bank of Montreal to the abandoned Crofthaven School.
The first OSLT play, My Three Angels, was produced in May of 1961 and performed in the auditorium of the Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute. In 1963, OSLT won a place in the Western Ontario Drama League theatre competition with Deep Blue Sea.
From this base, OSLT expanded its goals and mounted many ambitious and successful plays. The Fantastiks was the group’s first musical, to be followed by larger and more ambitious productions such as Oliver (with the Georgian Bay Community Orchestra), Cabaret, Kiss Me Kate, Fiddler on the Roof and the final play in the OSCVI, My Fair Lady in May 1984.
Crofthaven School had become the holding tank to a burgeoning stock of set pieces, wardrobe, props and general theatre paraphernalia. As the physical assets grew, so did the expertise of the troupe. Theatre Ontario – the highest competition available to a community theatre company, was won in 1981 and 1982 with productions of Bethune, The Runner Stumbles and again in 1989 with Tally’s Folly which led to an invitation to perform in Victoria BC as part of a national one-time competition.
But deep in the hearts of the company members was the dream to be able to rehearse, live and perform in their very own home theatre.
The Time: 1986
Place: 251 9th St. East, Owen Sound
Characters: 100+ members
Synopsis: In pursuing the dream of a permanent home, OSLT had explored many possibilities: The old Savoy Theatre (1976), the Bayshore Community Centre (1982), the proposed Arts Centre Georgian College (1984), but none of these projects materialized. Finally, in 1986, under the capable leadership of Velma Mitges, the group purchased the Roxy Theatre, one time home of opera and vaudeville theatre, sometime Odeon movie house, and now, finally, the home of Owen Sound Little Theatre.
With a firm foundation under its feet, the company undertook even more challenges, opening the theatre to other community groups for music, dance, drama and business – becoming a vital cultural anchor, and a major player in the redevelopment of Owen Sound’s historic downtown core.
The Time: the future
Place: Roxy Theatre
Characters: the community
The Roxy welcomes approximately 25,000 patrons through its doors each year, and brings significant financial benefit to regional tourism, recreation and retail industries. The Roxy employs a full-time theatre manager, a full time box office manager and two part-time assistants, a part-time fund development and communications assistant and a very busy contracted technical director.
In 2011, the OSLT celebrated its 50 year anniversary, marking the occasion with the conclusion of a successful burn and build campaign which allowed us to close our 25 year, $1,000,000 mortgage held on the building. We are now actively building a reserve fund, building capacity and finding creative ways to ensure our continued sustainability. The curtain has opened every year on the newest OSLT production. With the support of the community, and a new generation of interest in live performance, we hope it always will.