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It’s showtime — Brookhaven Little Theatre will reveal its 50th season

Story and photos by JoAnna Sproles.

The golden 50th season celebration of Brookhaven Little Theatre will unveil all its secrets at the Season Reveal Party tonight at 7 p.m. at the historic Haven Theatre. 

Attendees will today get to celebrate the upcoming production season and purchase season tickets at a one-day-only discounted price.

In recent years, Brookhaven Little Theatre has experienced a renaissance — a renewal of energy with new renovations, new volunteers and new events to make its way into the heart of the arts community in Brookhaven. This new year, starting in late September with their first production, is no different. The plays — which will be announced at the Reveal Party — promise emotion, excitement, laughter, singing and memorable experiences for those on and off the stage.

The theatre as an organization is one of the longest running in the state and is going through some major modifications, which include extensive future plans. Renovations have been steadily made whenever possible in the last 10 years, including a recent massive construction project in the auditorium around the stage. Artistic Director for BLT, Emily Waterloo, said the building and its volunteers within are becoming a recognizable force both within and outside of the community.

“The reason our landmark theatre stands the test of time is the result of the impact and importance of the performing arts on the cultural and economic life of our community,” Waterloo said.

Waterloo attributes the growing success and interest in the theater to a few features. The organization has paid close attention to what other successful theaters are doing and adopted some of those ideas. And, the quality of the season and integrity of its shows means everything to the volunteers who work at the theater.

“We have focused on producing higher-quality productions with a hyper-focus on improving casting, costuming, enhancing our stage and technical abilities,” Waterloo said.

When looking at its own successes, Waterloo said the theater has improved the process of promoting its productions and expanding its reach through consistent marketing, so that their brand is becoming a trusted product not only for patrons, but attractive for grants and community financial support. BLT has also created a very specific method of researching and selecting its next season’s show titles based on certain criteria, Waterloo added.

But, like an ongoing organization, BLT does face some challenges. Waterloo said one of the biggest challenges is also one of BLT’s greatest assets.

“We reside in a large, historic building that not only needs constant maintenance, but has thousands of square feet that, if renovated, could be used for much-needed rehearsal and educational spaces,” she said. “We constantly have structural obstacles that force us to balance our limitations with creating the magic in our shows.”

The future, both near and distant, contains renovation and improvement projects, both large and small. Through the “Save the Haven” fund, people in the Brookhaven community have shown interest and collectively invested in the historic property.

“There is a clear pride in the place we all know as The Haven,” she said.

The pride will allow for some important changes including expansion and modernization of brand new ADA compliant restrooms. In the near future, the group hopes to restore the flooring and seating inside the auditorium and make further improvements to the lighting and sound capabilities. Waterloo also mentioned hopes of fully renovating the building space adjacent to the Haven as soon as possible.

In order to make strides in the performances and other events held at the theater, community support is key. Purchasing season tickets gives the organization a jump start in revenue for the beginning of the year. Paden Phillips is directing the 50th anniversary season reveal party and said that the public can expect a high energy production with singing, dancing, drama, comedy and great food.

Special guests include Miss Mississippi 2016 Laura Lee Lewis and catering will be provided by MasterChef finalist Katie Newman Dixon. Both women grew up in Brookhaven and still call this city home.

Festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. and attire is the choice of the individual. Season tickets will still be available for purchase after the reveal party by visiting the BLT Facebook page or the website at www.haventheatre.org

“The party intends to set the bar high and make the effort that we invest to produce an amazing show,” Phillips said. “The audience should feel like we are capable of presenting high quality shows for them all season long.”

Phillips assure audiences that the productions planned this year promise an anticipated season of memorable moments.

“In the past five years that I have been attending shows at the Haven, this will be the best season so far,” he said. “BLT just keeps getting better.”