MACOMB — Macomb Community Theatre is looking forward to celebrating 60 years of community theater in the Macomb area this coming year, with four shows and an upgraded facility at the Pat Crane Memorial Theatre.
Pat Robinson, Macomb Community Theatre first Vice President, wrote a history about Macomb Community Theatre at the time of its 50 year anniversary. She shared some of that history with the Voice as the crew looks forward to its next major anniversary.
Robinson said the theater started in the spring of 1959 by founder Pat Crane. Crane invited a small group of people to come to her home to start a community theater group in Macomb. That meeting led to a general meeting at the basement of Union National Bank on April 29, 1959.
That first general meeting led Macomb Community Theatre to have a set of by-laws and to be incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with 73 members.
The first production, "Teahouse of the August Moon," was presented on Nov. 13, 1959 at the brand new Fine Arts Theatre at Western Illinois University under the direction of Vernon Johnson with a cast of 30. That play was successful, and the Macomb community started supporting the community theater.
In October 1960, MCT bought the Macomb Rod and Gun Club, where they rehearsed in preparation for the performances, which were still held at WIU.
When WIU's theater program grew, it meant that Macomb Community Theatre needed a new home. At first, they looked at old churches and other buildings, but they decided to make the old Macomb Rod and Gun Club building their home.
Work began to make the old Macomb Rod and Gun Club suitable for theater, including building an addition to create a theater in the round. Newly named The Country Playhouse, Macomb Community Theatre finally had its own home in 1965.
Since then, the theater has gone through several additions and upgrades. In 1981, The Country Playhouse was renamed the Pat Crane Memorial Theatre in memory of Crane.
Roy Roth, MCT second vice president, said that the building was upgraded this past year with both lighting and seating. The lighting was taken down, cleaned up and were reinstalled. The new chairs were purchased from The Crossing. Robinson said that the theater seats now about 105 patrons.
"We bought a bunch of their chairs and upgraded to make them a lot more comfortable for you to see," Roy said. "We also staggered the chairs so that they are not in a line, so that you are not constantly trying to move from side to side, so it is a lot easier for customers to see what is going on."
Robinson said that MCT puts on four shows a year with four to five performances of each show. The 2019 season will be "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," "You Can't Get There From Here," "Time and Time Again" and "The Swan Song."
According to Peggy Roth, Macomb Community Theatre president, "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" is currently in rehearsals under the direction of Rochelle Seaver with a six person cast of Joshua Keck as Charlie Brown, Tyler Lucas as Linus, Chris Holling as Snoopy, Brittany Devereueauwax as Lucy, Jillian English as Patty and Thomas Engel as Schroeder. It is a musical based on the Peanuts comics and show times are Feb. 22-24 and March 1-2, 2019 at the Pat Crane Memorial Theatre, located at South Johnson Road about a mile and half south of Macomb Jr./Sr. High School.
Single production tickets are $10 for adults, $8.00 for seniors and $6.00 for students. Season tickets are $30 for one person, $70 for two people, $140 for four people and $210 for six people. Tickets can be purchased by cash or check and can be ordered by mail at Macomb Community Theatre; P O Box 5; Macomb IL 61455, by calling 309-837-1828 or sending email to livetheatre@macombcommunitytheatre.org.
Anyone interested in supporting Macomb Community Theatre can contact with the same information for tickets and membership is $5 per year.
"We have members from every walk of life," Robinson said. "We have members who are professional people, educators, factory workers, farmers, housewives, you name it, we had everybody."

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