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Fifty years ago, the St. Mary's Hospital Auxiliary sponsored a musical at Lincoln University's Richardson Auditorium that sparked the community's interest, drawing volunteer actors, off-stage workers and audience members.

That first production of "Little Mary Sunshine" spawned the creation of The Little Theatre, Jefferson City's first theater group. Since then, other theater groups have branched off from The Little Theatre, creating a thriving theater scene that fills different niches.

A 25-year retrospective of the theater group, written in the mid 1990s, said: "The time was right to rekindle the embers of desire for 'live' theatre in the city of Jefferson."

Since TLT formed, participation and popularity in theater has boomed, and three other theater groups are now a prominent part of the community: Scene One, Capital City Productions and Stained Glass Theatre.

TLT has a core group of volunteers who work tirelessly on stage and behind the stage to put on top-notch shows.

Many of that core group have been in dozens of productions, donating a big part of their lives to entertaining us through their art.

These aren't pampered, spoiled, over-paid actors seeking fame and fortune. These are down-to-earth members of our community who often have families and full-time jobs, while still finding time to volunteer for their love of theater.

Some of them, including Jack Renner, Maria Bish, Matt Connor, Laramie Thompson, Gabrielle Wittenberger and Mark Wegman (who went on to form Scene One Theatre), have been involved in TLT and the local theater scene for decades. Renner started with TLT in 1970, a year after it formed.

We commend the selfless dedication of everyone who has had a part in TLT's success over the past half century.

After 50 years, take a well-deserved curtain call, TLT. We're up on our feet and applauding.

News Tribune

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