HISTORY
BRECKSVILLE LITTLE THEATRE
                    
* * Our History * *

While there had been theatrical endeavors in Brecksville Ohio ever since the mid-
nineteenth century, it was not until 1941 that a handful of residents, bound together by love of
community and live theatre, established the Brecksville Little Theatre.  Their first production
was an evening of three one-act plays, staged at the Junior High School in the spring of that
year.  Admission was fifty cents.  The next year the group moved into the historic Brecksville
Old Town Hall, which has been our home ever since.  In the early 1970’s there was some
consideration given to performing at the old Sleepy Hollow Country Clubhouse, but plans
never came to fruition.  Only when a fire gutted the Old Town Hall in 1976 was the group
forced to temporarily move to the auditorium of the neighboring Methodist Church.

Maintaining the fledgling theatre during the World War II years proved difficult.   
Membership was depleted; people were busy overseas or in the factories.   Almost everything
was rationed.  Yet, BLT continued to entertain a town that needed diversion, and even
supported bond drives and Army-Navy benefits.  By 1949, the theatre was incorporated by
State Charter as a non-profit organization. And, a growing audience necessitated reserved
seating.  In the next two decades, membership increased substantially as did funds to donate
200 new seats, stage curtains, a new exhaust system for the balcony, a water cooler, new
lighting controls and a box office.  In more recent years, the City of Brecksville, owner of our
home, has generously renovated the entire facility dedicating the Old Town Hall as a venue
for live entertainment with state-of-the-art lighting, sound systems and expanded amenities for
both audience and thespians. In 2007, the City has given us office and meeting space in the
annex building adjoining the Old Town Hall.

From the beginning, and continuing today, BLT has been committed to the
community, participating in annual City celebrations such as Memorial Day activities,
Christmas parades, Home Days fairs, entertaining at veteran’s hospitals, church events, and
senior citizen functions.  Brecksville Little Theatre also provides two scholarship awards to
deserving high school seniors in the arts and humanities.  The awards are named for
dedicated members as a memorial:  The Jack Hruby Humanities Award, and the Schoenfelt
Dramatics Award.   In 2003, the group revived its youth theatre program offering summer
workshops to children at no, or very minimal, charge.  The workshops culminate in a weekend
production staged in mid-August.

In a 1946 program, our predecessors wrote, “We parallel the acorn, and we believe we
have laid a firm foundation on which to build our future aspirations. But the fact that we
managed to keep our little theatre intact (during war years) has given us confidence and a
tremendous impetus to go forward and make a real community theatre, the kind Brecksville
can be proud of.”  We understand the perseverance needed.  It took 27 years before the
group braved doing a Broadway musical even though a yearly dinner dance incorporated a
one-hour original musical revue written by members.  Now some of the biggest musicals are
standard fare.  

BLT has had highs and lows over its history.  We’ve lost valued friends as the group
ages.  And, today, society places ever-increasing time and financial demands on cast, crew,
and theatre patrons alike.  We take pride that we have been a self-sufficient, volunteer,
community organization all these years.  As a not-for-profit organization, we depend upon our
dedicated volunteers who give limitless hours of their time, effort and, above all, heart.  We
are fortunate to count among our members people from all walks of life, all striving to present
the best in community theatre. People have always been the key to our success.  We do
believe that our theatre’s founders, so many decades ago, would be proud of what their little
group has become and that their aspirations have been fulfilled. . ..
Old Town Hall Interior  
1954

FOOTNOTE
A little-known fact:
  

While BLT has had
numerous talented
performers go on to
successful theatrical
careers, our 1951 comedy
“Here Today” was directed
by a young man named
Paul Newman, who was
later to reach the top of the
theatrical world.

Yes, THE Paul Newman
Old Town Hall
in 1941
To entertain, educate, and serve the community.

"Millennium Theatres"

Brecksville Little Theatre is proud to be
included in "Millennium Theatres,"
a 253-page history of community theatres  
in America, 50 years and older,
re-published in 2004 by Theatre USA, with
the cooperation of the American
Association of Community Theatre (AACT)
and The City of Detroit Department of
Recreation, Empowerment Zone.

Read about our very early history from  
stories told by the people who were
instrumental in founding and growing
Brecksville Little Theatre.  The
entry was reprinted from a 1990 article
published in the Brecksville Magazine
during the group's  50
th Annversary
celebration.


http://www.aact.org/documents/Millenniu
m_Theatres2b.pdf

BLT begins on the book's page 22
(or about page 30 as shown on your computer)


Entertaining and serving
the community since 1941.