SLT History

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Springfield Little Theatre is a nonprofit community theatre in Springfield, Missouri. With a history dating back to 1934, SLT started with one production a year and has grown to owning the historic Landers Theatre where roughly eight mainstage productions are performed with a designated set design team, costume shop, administrative team and a nationally recognized education program.

Before The Landers Theatre was the home of Springfield Little Theatre, the organization rehearsed and performed in venues all over Springfield. For a time, SLT performed at Central High School auditorium and also the theatre on Drury University’s campus.

In 1970, SLT purchased the historic Landers Theatre for $100,000 and has since completed restoration projects to ensure the theatre remains the Crown Jewel of the Ozarks for years to come. The Landers Theatre originally used the upstairs floors for apartments and the costume shop but has most recently been used for office space, classes and rehearsal space. The costume shop moved along with the set design shop to the Creamery Arts Center, less than a mile from the theatre.

SLT has been producing 7-10 Mainstage productions on the Landers stage since they purchased the building in 1970, but saw a dramatic turning point in the production value of the shows with the 2005 Disney classic, Beauty and the Beast which kick started the next 15 years of extraordinary programming. That show also boosted the theatre’s national costume rental program which has close to 20 full-show costume packages for rent to anywhere in the United States. To see a list of all past shows within each season, click here.

The Education Department that was started in the 70s (our current Executive Director, Beth Domann was a Youth Player in the late 70s!) started to grow and when Beth Domann began as Education Director in YEAR, she had 15-20 Youth Players in her group. Now, our Education Department is the home of over 200 youth performances troupers and an even greater number of participating young performers in other programs and performances. Since the inception of the education program, the classes and youth performers would always meet at The Landers, until it became very clear that if the program grew any more, there would not be room for it. So in 2018, Springfield Little Theatre entered a lease agreement on the old McDaniel School building about a mile from the theatre and then purchased the building in 2019, thanks to an angel donor and a $1 million gift from the C.W. Titus Foundation. The Judith Enyeart Reynolds School of the Performing Arts for Springfield Little Theatre is now the hub for all performing arts education in Springfield with education productions, classes, workshops, partnership opportunities with other arts organizations, film labs, a black box theatre, and The School of Fine & Performing Arts: a magnet school program in partnership with Springfield Public Schools. To learn more about the Education Department for SLT, click here.

Springfield Little Theatre is a true community theatre—dedicated to providing performing arts experiences to all of our neighbors in SW Missouri. In 2009, Springfield Little Theatre began our partnership with The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. A program called Any Given Child that seeks to provide art experience to any and every child in communities across the country, was brought to Springfield and SLT signed on. Every school year, every fourth grader in the Springfield Public School system will see a live performance at The Landers Theatre with their class. Materials are provided to the schools to further discussion and learning on the topics covered in the show. To learn more about our Any Given Child partnership, click here.

Springfield Little Theatre has a rich history, but it’s been the thousands of volunteers over the last 85+ years that have molded it and shaped it into the organization it is today. It is a volunteer-driven theatre. The actors, backstage crew, front of house, office and behind the scenes help, the boards, the guild and the parents of our youth performers have given tirelessly of their times and talents, pushing SLT forward into the strong, vibrant organization that is bringing the magic of live theatre to SW Missouri.

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