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OUR HISTORY

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Evansville Civic Theatre was born in the 1920's when the community theater movement swept across the country. But Civic Theatre's roots extend far back into the 19th Century to the days when independent theater companies performed throughout the Midwest, bringing artistry and entertainment to people who would otherwise never know the excitement of live theater. The founder of Evansville Civic Theatre, Miss Frances Golden, brought to the new community theater (called Peoples Players in 1925-then changed to Community Players) all of her previous experience as the daughter of a famous theatrical family. In addition, as artistic director for 17 years, Miss Golden gave to Evansville Civic Theatre a stability and sense of purpose that has shaped the character of community theater in Evansville for nearly 90 years.

From its humble beginnings at the Old Central High School auditorium, Evansville Civic Theatre has had many homes -- Memorial Coliseum, Bosse High School, the Rose Room of the McCurdy Hotel, the Elks Ballroom, and the Evansville Museum of Arts and Sciences when the name was changed to Evansville Civic Theatre in 1956. In 1974, Evansville Civic Theatre acquired it's own home, the former Columbia Movie Theater at 717 N. Fulton Avenue, built in 1910. Here, for almost an entire century, innumerable hours of production and performance time are relived every time the curtain is raised on a new Civic Theatre production. In 1977, the Civic Theatre Board of Directors hired long-time ECT volunteer Dick Engbers (*) as the first full-time professional Managing Artistic Director, a position he held for nearly 30 years until his retirement in October of 2005. Civic Theatre celebrated its 20th anniversary in the former Columbia Theater in Sept. 1994, with an exterior restoration as the Art Deco building appeared in 1939. In August 1996, new theater seating and a complete refurbishing of the theatre interior was completed.

In the last decade, with the Managing Artistic Director torch being passed to C. Lynn Kinkade and Christopher Tyner respectively, Civic Theatre has implemented numerous new projects and programs reaching more and more audience members. The NEXTWAVE Educational Program reaches out to children, teens, and adults through classes and two mainstage shows that have been incorporated into each season. The Civic Theatre Education Annex in the North Park Shopping Cener has birthed a new performance space in a flexible Black-Box setting dubbed The Underground at the Annex, and in 2011 Civic went into a partnership with Lincoln Amphitheatre for an annual summer presentation. 

Brian Woods
President

Allyson Claybourn
Vice President

Mark Atchison
Treasurer

Margaret Gregory
Secretary

Board Members
Angela Briggs-Baumgart
Sean Esterline
Jeremiah Kenoyer
Alison Moore
Allison Mooney
Kirsten Wagmeister
Ken Zinn

Civic Theatre Staff

Christopher P. Tyner
Managing Artistic Director

Charles Julius
Technical Director

Coming from the west, exit at Fulton, stay in the left lane of the exit ramp, turn left onto Fulton and proceed to the theatre at Fulton and Columbia. 

From the east, exit at Fulton Avenue exit, turn right onto Fulton and proceed to the theatre.  Take a right onto Columbia and a right into the parking lot just past the theatre.

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FOR A MAP TO THE THEATRE

 

A Tribute to Director Emeritus
Dick Engbers

In the early 1960s, a young theater bug-bitten kid became involved with the Evansville Civic Theatre. He was active both onstage and backstage at ECT and several other theater venue’s in the area for several years. Having revived the annual summer musical in the mid-sixties, the ECT Board of Directors asked Dick, who had recently directed an extremely successful production of Sweet Charity at a coffee house theatre in Newburgh, if he would direct the 1968 musical. Honored, he graciously accepted and the rest is-nearly 40 years of Civic Theatre-History. 

For the next 10 years, he acted, directed, and held different positions on the board of directors as a volunteer. When it became apparent that the theatre was growing, the day to day operations intensifying, and the volunteer board of directors unable to keep up with the daily duties, it was decided in 1977, along with a modest grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, to take a huge leap and hire a full-time Administrative Director. In November 1977, after Dick’s years of directing shows and basically running the theatre operations, the Board of Directors offered him the position. Through the years, as the theatre grew, employees were added and duties increased; his title changed from Administrative Director to Artistic Director to Managing Director and finally Artistic/Managing Director. 

Under Dick’s direction, the theatre prospered into one of the premier community theatres in the state of Indiana and the country. Participating in the state’s community theatre annual competitions for many years, countless awards for best show, best directing, and acting, were achieved by Dick and the stalwarts of the theatre. In 1985, the Civic Theatre’s efforts and awards were cumulated with an invitation to represent the US in the annual Community Theatre International Competition in Dundalk, Ireland. The award winning musical Cole received a special award for Best Musical Ensemble and the Best Director of the competition was awarded to Dick Engbers. 

Hundreds upon hundreds of talented community actors have weaved their magic over the 30+ years Dick was connected with the theatre. Their love and devotion was evidenced every time they stepped into the spotlight! His tireless work and love for both ECT and the Evansville community was heralded by his successes and accomplishments. Dick was awarded the Sagamore of the Wabash (the highest honor given in the state of Indiana), the Mayor’s Arts award in 1991, the Jefferson Award, and a key to the city of Evansville in 2004. 

The theatre community came together in November 2004 to bestow their accolades, praise, and gratitude in a dynamic, emotional musical tribute to Mr. Theatre-a name coined many years ago by Joycelyn Winnecke, now editor of the Chicago Tribune-Dick Engbers.

 

     

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Christopher P. Tyner
Managing Artistic Director

Charles Julius
Technical Director

Our Mission

Evansville Civic Theatre is a non-profit community theatre committed to presenting high-quality theatrical productions, to providing an imaginative environment for artistic expression for all members of the community, and to offering stimulating educational programming for youth and adults.

 



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EVANSVILLE CIVIC THEATRE - 717 N FULTON AVENUE - EVANSVILLE, IN 47710 - 812-425-2800