Guymon Community Theatre Spotlight Players began with "Dracula Baby" directed by Kristy Patterson in 1979. The first 2 plays were presented in what was the little auditorium at Academy, but is now the Alternative School building. Mike and Kristy Patterson started the theatre group and have taken part off and on since the beginning.
The group moved to the historic American Theatre building on Main Street and have been presenting quality productions for 26 seasons using all volunteers. In 1983, the group received their Articles of Incorporation and the IRS 501C letter of determination declaring Guymon Community Theatre as a qualified non-profit organization.
The theatre building was purchased and remodeling has been on going since the mid 1980's. We extended the stage forward, added a wing to the stage; the 189 padded seats recline as a person is seated; a tunnel was built for the cast to go from backstage to the lobby without going outside around the block; there is a handicapped ramp on one side; the ceiling was lowered in the auditorium and ceiling fans installed. Air conditioning was installed in the auditorium so that it could be used in the summer months if needed. The concession stand and make-up room were divided and upgraded. The restrooms were expanded and are now handicap accessible; the lobby has been remodeled and new carpet installed 6 weeks ago; and the cast now has a bathroom backstage.
The stage curtains have been hanging since 1983. Two years ago we took them down to vacuum them and after they were rehung they started literally disintegrating from age and the dust accumulation. We have replaced the side curtains, but now our next project is to replace the back wall curtains and the front stage curtains.
We have been receiving grants from the Oklahoma Arts Council for a number of years and without their help, we would not be able to produce the shows that we have. We have also received grants from the Riffe Foundation and Xcel Energy for the bathroom and lobby remodels.
In the 27 seasons, we have produced 89 shows: dramas, comedies, mysteries, and musicals. We have also had vaudeville shows, dinner theatres, outside artists performing, and a Wild West Show. We have done two historical radio style shows where the actors are sitting on stage with microphones reading their parts in the different character voices as if they are on the radio. The sound effects were created in full view of the audience as they would have been done in the days of radio. We normally have three to four shows in a season.
We have only repeated four shows and they were years apart. "Oklahoma" was done for the Land Run centennial in 1989 and again for the City of Guymon centennial in 2001. "Barefoot in the Park" was the second show of the first season and was repeated during the 25th anniversary season. "Don't Drink the Water", and "Annie" in March 2005. The sequel called "Annie Warbucks" was presented in March 2006. The New York City skyline was painted on the back wall and stayed there for the sequel.
With every production, we have first timers to the stage as well as returning veterans. For example, we have produced four of the "Nunsense" series. The primary characters are the same in each production. The stories surround the various fundraisers that the nuns from the Little Sisters of Hoboken convent are presenting and of course Murphy's Law takes hold and things do not always work out. Joann Andrews has played the part of Sister Hubert in all four productions and Kay Brune has played the part of Sister Robert Anne in three of the four. We took Nunsense I and II to Dalhart and performed at the LaRita Little Theatre.
Men on stage has been a problem from the beginning. I guess they are too shy to want to perform. However, in August 2002, Kristy Patterson directed the musical "1776" which had 30 men and 2 women and all had to sing. She started talking, enticing and cajoling the men she knew six months before auditions to have enough men for the cast. And, she made it!
Live theatre is so much fun because anything can happen no matter how often the cast goes through the play. And, you do not have the luxury of "do overs". For instance, the first time we did "Annie", the dog got loose and went out the back door and down the alley. This time there were two dogs, a labrador who was Sandy and a Chihuahua that was used in the dog catcher's cage. One night, the lab was a few minutes late, so for the scene with Annie, they sent out the Chihuahua, but the actors on stage didn't know what the dog would do, so the policeman grabbed him up and got bit. The next scene was the hobo scene. The labrador made it and when Annie came on stage with the correct dog, she said "I found a bigger dog" and went right on with the scene. Come to find out, the owner of the lab got caught in a traffic jam. Guymon police had the street blocked and she was in the middle of the block and could not turn around. We turn the ringer off on the phone when the curtain goes up, so she had no way of contacting us to tell us what happened.
Our directors over the years have been very innovative with their sets and the use of the wings of the stage, in front of the curtain, behind the scrim, coming down the aisles and even the platform on top of the tunnel has been used several times. For "The Wizard of Oz", a platform was built from the stage over the first two rows of seats in the center so that Dorothy, the scarecrow, tin man and lion could perform their songs up close and personal to the audience.
In today's environment with computers, movies and television, there is not much opportunity for people to use their imagination. Live theatre requires the cast, set and props to give the illusion of the ideas and allow the audience to use their imagination.
We have had cast members from Stratford, Goodwell, Texhoma, Hooker, and Hardesty as well as Guymon who have dedicated seven to eight weeks of their life to come to rehearsals, learn their lines and music and perform. There are a great many talented people in our area. We have had bus tours who have stayed the night in Guymon and come to either a dress rehearsal or a show and commented that we have just as quality a production as they have seen in other larger areas.
Our patrons and our audiences come from Kansas and Texas as well as the Oklahoma Panhandle.
We open the box office and begin accepting reservations two to three weeks prior to opening night. If a reservation is made, then a seat is assigned and tickets can be picked up prior to the performance. We have had sold out performances for a number of shows and we try our best to seat everyone who walks in, but reservations are highly recommended. If someone doesn't pick up their tickets at least 15 minutes before curtain, we reassign their seats if we need to. For example, the final performance of "Annie" was sold out when we opened and we had a number of walk-ins with small children; so we put children on laps and did a juggling act and everyone who came got a seat. And, that is not the first time that had happened.
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