Since 1975 Community Players has striven to deliver the highest quality theatre to Beatrice and Southeast Nebraska. Our goal is to promote, encourage and increase the knowledge, appreciation and practice of live theatre in Southeast Nebraska.
Our theatre, located in downtown Beatrice, provides a flexible venue for producing a variety of productions ranging from large cast musicals to intimate comedies and dramas. We recently completed a capital campaign to fund building renovations and equipment upgrades.
Community Players was born in the basement of the Beatrice City Auditorium in 1975 with the support of the City Parks and Recreations Department. People interested in forming a community theatre gathered there to share ideas. Fortunately it was a mixture of performers and organizers all of whom had the love of live theatre in common.
It was agreed by all that in order to become an independent and viable organization, funds must be raised. The local high school drama coach was solicited to hold auditions and stage a dinner theatre to raise enough capital to begin Community Players. The comedy “Gown For His Mistress” was staged in the dining room of the Beatrice Inn and enough funds were raised to form a small treasury.
From the original group of interested people, officers and a nine member board of directors were elected and by-laws were drawn up to form what is now a non-profit arts organization. Terry Terhune, a local barber and performer, was the first president of the board.
From the beginning Community Players felt it was important to have a full time professional artistic director. To afford such a luxury, those with organizational talent began the “First Night Patron” concept. It began by asking five couples to offer their homes to 20 or 30 people for dinner, and to donate $100 to the new theatre. These five then solicited 20 hosts to provide the food for the dinner and to donate $100 each. Now these 25 people invited over 100 others to attend this dinner before the premier performance of the Theatre Season and of course, to donate $100 to the theatre. All of these people purchased Season Tickets also.
The first season’s rehearsals and productions were held in the lodge room of the old Elks building. We were grateful for any space at the time, but had to remove sets in progress for each lodge meeting, rehearse around lodge functions, patrons had to climb a long flight of steep stair to attend performances and the backstage area was so inadequate that actors sat on a wooden stool under a single light bulb for make-up application. In spite of the difficulties, a successful season was presented and Community Players was a viable arts organization.
For the next three and a half years the theatre was allowed to use a building at Southeast Community College. With many hours of volunteer labor, the Players made that building their first permanent home providing three full seasons of entertainment, three dinner theaters, a children’s summer production and a Nebraska Theatre Caravan performance.