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home : community : history December 6, 2022

8/25/2022 11:23:00 AM
A Brief History Of The Cherryville Little Theatre
CLT performers know how to put on a show! Plus: new season, Sept. 1
Rebecca Belk and Terrell Barnes rehearse a scene in The Last Five Years. The show runs Sept. 23 and 24 and Oct. 1 and 2.
(Photos Courtesy Erika Barnes and Sarah Sandoval)

Rebecca Belk and Terrell Barnes
rehearse a scene in The Last
Five Years
. The show runs
Sept. 23 and 24 and Oct. 1 and 2.

(Photos Courtesy Erika Barnes and Sarah Sandoval)

Among the performers in the 2018 production of High School Musical were Emily Kirby, Sydney Bridges, Kevin Burke, Rachel Morgan and Erika Barnes.
Among the performers in the 2018
production of High School Musical
were Emily Kirby, Sydney Bridges,
Kevin Burke, Rachel Morgan and
Erika Barnes.

As Shakespeare said, “The play’s the thing!”

And at the Cherryville Little Theatre, plays have been their thing for decades.

How did it all begin? Sarah Fox Sandoval, the CLT’s current president, and past-president Wade Stroupe recently told us all about it.

As Stroupe revealed, it was back in the late 1970’s that the former West School buildings and properties were purchased by the City of Cherryville from the Gaston County Schools. Prior to this, the Cherryville Little Theatre, formed in 1973, used the West School auditorium for five years through a lease agreement with the County. Upon the City’s purchase, the auditorium was officially named the Cherryville Municipal Auditorium, although it is now commonly referred to as the Cherryville Little Theatre.

Since the purchase, Stroupe added, the City has had a long-term lease agreement with the theatre as the facility’s primary user, although other civic groups and organizations have used the building throughout the years. The Cherryville City Council even used the facility for a period of years as the venue for its regular meetings and has often used it for town hall meetings and public fora.

The non-profit theatre is an all-volunteer organization, and it has no paid staffers. It has had an active board of directors with oversight and management of operations for the past 49 years, during which time more than 100 plays have been produced. With a minimum of three performances per play, there have been more than 350 performances on the theatre’s stage. Original shows written by local playwrights have been performed on this stage, from student-written shows during theatre camps and classes to full productions.

On average, with a conservative estimate of 100 audience members present per performance, well more than 33,000 people have attended Cherryville Little Theatre performances. Although it’s difficult to quantify, an estimated 25 people work on every production, so more than 2,500 people have worked as cast and crew members on plays, as Sandoval noted.

Also since ’73, the theatre has averaged producing two and a half plays a year, while some seasons have featured as many as six shows in 12 months. With nearly half a century now under its collective belt, the Cherryville Little Theatre has far exceeded the life expectancy of most community theatre groups, as Sandoval observed.

“In 2018,” she added, “we underwent multiple large-scale renovations. Our first show upon re-opening that year was the popular High School Musical. In 2009, that show was also the CLT’s first show after a resumption of theatrical operations, following a few years of hiatus in our regular performances.”

Alas, in 2020, the State-mandated COVID-19 restrictions shut down much of the CLT’s in-person operations for a while, though the board of directors continued to meet and discuss community partnership opportunities, as Sandoval informed.

“During our shutdown,” she said, “the junior board of directors was formed. This small group of teens held Internet-based meetings and created a number of projects, including a few episodes seen on You-Tube that featured their ‘mockumentary’ skits about their meetings.

“We were able to safely have a fairly full 2021-22 season,” she continued, “beginning with Anne of Green Gables last summer, followed by Usher: A Totally Teen Comedy for our autumn production, partnership school performances of Junie B. Jones: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, Almost History: That Whole Space-Time Continuum Thing, Clue and The GREAT Show. The final performance of that season was held in July during the Cherryville Little Theatre Summer Writing and Drama Camp, which culminated in the original show, The Next Bestseller, that was written and performed in just two weeks!”

The CLT’s 2022-23 season starts Sept. 1.

“This season,” said Sandoval, “we have four Cherryville Little Theatre productions on our stage, in addition to two shows in partnership with Lincoln Charter School’s Middle School Drama Club.”

She noted that the upcoming season’s opening show is a musical, The Last Five Years, running Sept. 23 and 24 and Oct. 1 and 2. Directed by Erika Barnes, it follows a husband and wife as they recount their marriage.

Following closely behind is Misery, Oct. 28 and 29 and Nov. 4 and 5. Directed by Robert Owens, this adaptation of Stephen King’s novel is about a famous writer, injured in a car crash and taken in by his biggest fan. But her obsession soon turns frightening.

Sandoval informed that updates on auditions, productions and more information may be found on the CLT’s Facebook page, its Instagram account and the Website:

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