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LAKELAND LITTLE THEATER, RG04-2, 1951-1982

Scope and Content Note

The Lakeland Little Theatre, organized in 1951, was a volunteer group of actors, stage hands, costumers, etc. and a Board of Directors. The first production was a one night performance of Ayn Rand's comedy-drama, "The Night of January 16th" on April 3, 1951. It was directed by Mildred Springer Iberson, a Florida Southern College faculty member at the Mayhall Auditorium.

In 1952, the Junior Welfare League hired Jimmy Dyas to produce its annual fundraiser follies show, "Red Stocking Time." The Little Theatre Board hired Jimmy Dyas to direct its first formal production of James Thurber’s “The Male Animal” in April 1952. He continued as the director for two seasons before moving north. Mr. Dyas returned to Lakeland in 1971 to direct until the end of 1975. He also directed the final play, “Sunday in New York” in 1982 when the Theatre closed for good. There were many other directors during the 30 year history of the Little Theatre.

The Lakeland Little Theatre performed in the Mayhall Auditorium, which was located on the site of the current City Hall buildings. In 1958 it moved to the new civic center on Lake Mirror where it staged many successful productions. In 1977 the city urged Lakeland Little Theatre to move its productions to the theater of the newly completed civic center, now known as the Lakeland Center. However, because the auditorium was too large for a small community theater group, it lost money. The Lakeland Little Theatre returned to the Lake Mirror center in 1980 until its demise in 1982.

The collection is composed of programs/play bills dating from the first production in 1951, then 1957 through 1982. Much of the material was donated by the estate of Richard P. Jones. Mr. Jones had been president of the Board of Directors in 1972-73. There are records from his files which include programs, correspondence, meeting notes, three financial statements, a roster of the Board, by-laws and some set designs from that period.

We have four Lakeland Little Theatre posters: “Mame”, “Cactus Flower”, “Night of the Iguana”, and “Perils of Pinocchio” donated by David Pickard located in Record Group 100, Box 14. There are also newspaper clippings in the Vertical file.