Revival of Franklin Little Theater considered

Published 9:39 am Saturday, March 10, 2012

Participating in Franklin Little Theater's production of "Oklahoma" in 1977 were, from left, Peggy Jester, Shirley Pope, Joyce Norfleet, Bruce Stewart, Dale Bridsong, Edith Camp, Alicia Finch, Ron Cockrill, Hope Jones, Fred Stewart, Johanna Osborn, Francy Brook, Ginny Sullins, Muriel Blythe, Jim Cooley, Maxine Hollowell, Frank Brook, Bill Royster, Kim Johnson, Randy Bryant, Luther Ellis, Phil Doughtie, Larry Parrish, Tom Livoti, Tim Mason and Bob Sides. -- Submitted | Vivian Christie


Props and set crew members for the 1979 production of “South Pacific” were Tim Kissinger, from left, Frederick Hodges, Chuck Lander, Michelle Keller, Anthony Demick and Karen Cronin. -- Submitted | Vivian Christie

FRANKLIN—Alumni from the former Franklin Little Theater are organizing a reunion from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, March 24, at the Forks of the River building on Route 258 south of Franklin.

There’s a second reason for the event — to generate interest in reviving the group.

The theater got is start in 1969.

Member Nancy Parrish was a senior at Franklin High that year, and the class play was not held that spring. A parent felt that was unfair and made it happen. The Franklin Little Theater was born that fall.

Each year for three decades the group performed two to three shows, sometimes once a year at the high school.

“There were some great times,” said member Vivian Christie. “We’d have a full orchestra for musicals and 40 to 100 people participating, depending on the show. There would be a good six weeks of preparation, with two to four for productions and striking sets. It ate into a lot of family time.”

Vivian Christie looks through a scrapbook of a past production by the Franklin Little Theater. In back from left are Nancy Parrish and Kathy Worrell, both fellow alumnae of the organization. -- Stephen H. Cowles | Tidewater News

“We gave our county a much-needed venue for the arts,” Christie added.

Different factors eroded the group. Some members who were strong backers left the area. When Hurricane Floyd flooded downtown in 1999, stored sets and props were ruined.

But the memories remain.

“There are some beautiful memories and lifetime friends,” Christie said.

“We had some really good friends,” added member Kathy Worrell.

“Annie” was the best seller of musicals. Other favorites were “Fiddler On the Roof,” “Sound of Music,” “The Wiz” featuring Franklin and Southampton students, “Oliver” and “Oklahoma!”

Ayn Rand’s “Night of January 16” was the first play. Others have included “The Glass Menagerie,” “Mr. Roberts,” “The Odd Couple” and “Ten Little Indians.”

Money raised from the plays was donated to Franklin High’s Drama Club and scholarships. Funds from the last two plays helped the school buy sound boards and lights for its theater.

The reunion is free. Reservations are needed. For more information, call Christie at 562-2198.