Ouachita Little Theatre
Mena Arkansas

Contact Information
Judy Kropp, President
 P.O. Box 1217, Mena, AR 71953
479-243-0186 (OLT Info Line)

Web Site:  www.ouachitalittletheatre.org
E-mail Address:  info@ouachitalittletheatre.org

Meeting Day Last Tuesday of month
5:30 PM
Meeting Place Really Great Pizza
Mena Street, Mena, AR 71953
Membership Open
Annual Dues Donations Accepted
Community Projects:  Theatre Productions (See our Special Events Calendar for Productions)

OLT's mission is to plan productions, recruit qualified directors, perform shows for children and adults and produce workshops in the theater arts. We also bi-annually bestow the Benson Award, named after the first President of the OLT, Leda Benson, to deserving performers or contributors to the organization's growth.

OLT encourages the development and showcasing of local talent in children and adults and provides the venue for their talent to be spotlighted in its theater at 610 Mena Street in downtown Mena. We are also a venue for performances by the Mena High School Theater Arts Program, and are available for rental for performances by other individuals and organizations.

2009 Season at the OLT

February 13-15 & 20-22 - The Importance of Being Earnest

February 27-March 1 - Mena High School Drama Department One-Act Plays

May 1-4 & 8-10 - Camelot

Fall 2009 - OLT 30th Anniversary Events & Benson Awards

Quarterly - Saturday Night at the Lyric - Local Musical & Talent Review

Ouachita Little Theatre - "Come PLAY with us!"


What does OLT do? OLT and its junior organization (JOLT) provide the Polk County community with a number of performances, year-round, including plays, dramatic, comedic, and musical, recitals, one-person shows, in addition to quarterly gatherings of local talent, performing as musical groups and single acts of all kinds, in an event called Saturday Night at the Lyric (SNL).

It is also a venue for occasional performances by the Mena High School Theater Arts Program, and is made available for rental for performances by other individuals and organizations when a OLT or JOLT show is not in progress. For more information about renting the theater for your performance or event, call our information line at 479-243-0186, or email us at info@ouachitalittletheatre.org.

We are a "Little Theatre", meaning all of our productions are staged, directed and managed by amateurs. We are told that it is hard to believe that the quality productions people see at the OLT are all the creations of a community theater with local amateur talent, but it is true.

The plays produced are usually drawn from a nationwide pool of professionally written productions, and as such, demand a production royalty. We are obligated to present the authors words, just as the words have been written, but the rest is our own. We have, from time to time, produced a play written by one of our own, as well.

OLT Today Today OLT is a mature organization with a board of directors made up of a cross-section of dedicated community leaders and a large volunteer corps. Between the announced major performances, mostly dramatic or musical plays, and SNL, there is usually some event at OLT every month. With rental of the theater by individuals and groups for recitals, and other kinds of performances, the lights are seldom dim at 610 Mena Street. Costume rentals from our extensive wardrobe collection are also available.

The bi-annual Benson Award is a kind of OLT version of the Oscars in Hollywood. It is named for Leda Benson, who was not only the first president of the OLT board of directors but was a prime mover in the creation of the organization, and was a director of numerous plays in the early days, as well.

OLT is always looking for volunteers. That includes actors and performers, but they don’t have to be on-stage, either. We need concession stand workers, stage hands, light and sound technicians, makeup artists, set builders and scenery painters, etc. Volunteering to work with OLT is FUN! There is a family atmosphere among all of the people who work on OLT productions and lifelong friendships are often the result.

For more information about OLT, acting, becoming a volunteer, or renting the theater for your performance or event, visit the other pages in this website, call our information line at 479-243-0186, or email us at info@ouachitalittletheatre.org. To order tickets for any performance see our Order Online page for prices and reservations.

History of the OLT

The building that now houses Ouachita Little Theatre was originally built as a movie house, The Lyric, in 1923. The Lyric had three other locations, the last of which burned in a fire, on January 27, 1922. The first Lyric opened in Mena on Monday, September 12, 1909. After the fire, the building OLT is in now opened Monday October first, 1923. It was owned and built by Mr. Price McCall, who also ran a laundry.

Starting as a place to see silent movies, in 1930 it was equipped with sound and the 1929 hit movie, Say It With Songs with Al Jolson was the first "talkie" ever shown there. Locally-born radio and movies celebrities Lum and Abner appeared live on its stage 3 times for the opening of their first movie, Dreaming Out Loud, on Friday September 6, 1940. It continued as Mena’s movie theater with several owners, until 1982. It was during the time it was a movie theater that sometimes on Saturday nights, local performers would gather outside and around the corner from The Lyric and put on impromptu shows. They became known as Saturday Night at the Lyric (SNL) and several times a year the OLT continues the SNL tradition by hosting them inside the building.

OLT was founded in 1979 by Leda Benson, and until 1985 provided plays and other performances in the Mena Middle School Auditorium, just up the street from The Lyric. In 1985 we took possession of the Lyric building, and converted it to accommodate live performances.

On November 13, 1993 a devastating tornado that wreaked havoc on downtown Mena swept the back third of the OLT away. The last OLT show before the tornado was Breaking Legs. For two years thereafter OLT performed again at Mena Junior High auditorium. The first show after the tornado was Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. OLT finally resumed activities back at The Lyric building in 1995.

Over the years, three to four plays were performed each year including Bus Stop, Barefoot in the Park, Oklahoma!, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Annie, Music Man, The Odd Couple, Steel Magnolias, Wizard of Oz, Fiddler on the Roof and The Mousetrap.

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Source of data:  Polk County Fact Book 2005 and Personal Interviews
07/16/15 07:39 PM

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