In 1952 a group of theatre lovers banded together to establish Lawton's first theatre group named "The Vagabond Playhouse." They met, rehearsed, and performed in schools, churches and backyards, wherever space was available. Their first production, "The Night of January 16th", was performed in December of 1952 in the Emerson Elementary School Auditorium. In January of 1953, the group, whose charter membership was now over 90 strong, met and ratified a constitution and a new name, "The Lawton Little Theatre." Also slated was an April production of "The Curious Savage". This was followed in June with "The Women", directed by John Denney, a young actor returning to Lawton after a successful career on the professional stage.
John Denney became the cornerstone of the Little Theatre (later renamed Lawton Community Theatre), directing 58 productions over 18 years and was named Director-Emeritus on the theatre's 25th anniversary. In 1966, LCT found a permanent home at 1316 NW Bell in a building leased from the City of Lawton. That building now bears the name of John Denney.
Subsequent directors, Bob Plumb, Irby Darnell, Tom Kartak, Cliff Justice and our current director, Cynthia Kent, have carried on the traditions laid down by our founders, helping make LCT one of Oklahoma’s premier community theatres.
In 1983, LCT’s production of "Working" was selected best in the State at the Festival of American Community Theatres. In 1997 "The Duck Variations" swept the awards at the State and Regional festivals and earned honors at the National festival. That same year LCT was honored to receive the Oklahoma Governor’s Arts Award. In 1998 LCT represented the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT) at the Liverpool International Theatre Festival in Nova Scotia, Canada, and in 2000 was selected as Oklahoma’s Community Theatre of the Year. In 2001 LCT’s production of the original script "The Normal Child" was selected as Production of Honor at the State festival. In 2003 LCT’s production of "Bus Stop" received the same. In 2005 the Lawton Community Theatre hosted the AACT SW Region VI Festival. In 2006, LCT's production of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" was selected as Production of Honor, with a cast of teen-aged actors.
Today LCT stands as the oldest performing arts institution in Southwest Oklahoma. Our current membership exceeds 800 Season Subscribers and our 200 volunteers work diligently to continue producing the quality live theatre our patrons have come to expect. Traditions with roots deep into Lawton's history and the unflagging commitment of the Board of Directors, staff and volunteers make the Lawton Community Theatre a part of Oklahoma's cultural future.
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