Shoals Theatre, TheFlorence
The Zodiac Players are the adult half of the Shoals Community Theatre Group. The group also includes the children's theatre group, The Gingerbread Players. The roots of the Shoals Community Theatre can be traced back over a half century ago to an earlier theatrical venture, The Tri-Cities Community Theatre. Its first production "Kind Lady" was presented May 20-21, 1948 at Kilby School Auditorium. Our organization attempts to cultivate the area's talent, whether it be on stage or backstage, and bring that talent to the public. Auditions are open to anyone, regardless of experience. We're an open organization. All of our board members are unpaid volunteers with only the production directors and some essential production staff being given a complimentary gratuity for their services. Without the voluntary and essential professional services given by our production directors, we would not be enjoying the success of a community theatre effort. The earlier group had no permanent theatre home and survived on something of a vagabond existence. Productions were shifted from various high school auditoriums throughout the Shoals and, after about 12 years, the organization became dormant. Between 1948 and 1961 the Tri-Cities Community Theatre staged 25 productions at UNA's Kilby Auditorium, Sheffield HS, and the Tuscumbian movie theatre. Among its amateur players were future television star, George "Goober" Lindsey and future Alabama Senator Howell Heflin. When the organization became dormant in the 60s, it left a small amount of money in a checking account-$237.82. In 1971 those leftover funds provided seed money for the organization of the Zodiac Players, which, along with a grant from the Alabama State Council for the Arts and Humanities, allowed a more permanent facility in Florence, the old Firestone garage on Hermitage Drive, to be a home base for an intimate playhouse. The first production of the Zodiac Players was William Inge's award-winning Broadway drama, "Bus Stop" on March 2, 1972. As of its most recent 2007-2008 season, Zodiac has presented 183 productions involving hundreds of aspiring performers and backstage workers with over 123,000 audience supporters.The children's theatre wing, the Gingerbread Players, was independently formed about 1976 by a group of parents who were interested in promoting the growth of children's theatre in the Shoals. The Gingerbread Players have continued as one of their primary goals to bring a theatrical experience to children in their school environment. Many children who might not otherwise attend a performance in a theater building are reached at their own schools. A complimentary performance is always presented for the children in the host school. The first production of the Gingerbread Players, "Hansel and Gretel" was presented in October 1976. As of the current year, 120 productions will have been presented by the Gingerbread Players. Among its presentations, classic and well-known titles of both dramas and musicals include: Cinderella, Peter Pan, Snow White, Heidi, The Wizard of Oz, Little Women, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Tom Sawyer, Sleeping Beauty, Treasure Island, The Hobbitt, The Velveteen Rabbit, Anne of Green Gables, Sound of Music, Oliver, The King and I, James and the Giant Peach, Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, Big River, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The enthusiasm that these plays have generated in the minds and actions of the children in attendance continue to show as the young former audiences have become stage participants in our current productions - the enriching cycle continues uninterrupted. In 1993 the Gingerbread Players joined with the Zodiac Players under the umbrella organization, The Shoals Community Theatre, in order to further enhance the efforts and resources of the individual organizations. In addition to our regular seasons, our organization now is a regular participant in the annual W.C. Handy Music Festival - we cosponsor the "Listening Room" venue at the Zodiac Playhouse, during which professional performers provide free entertainment to the public. Although Zodiac continues to perform in a rented facility and Gingerbread, primarily in schools, it is the combined dream and effort for our organization to seek a permanent and more functional facility for continued growth of the Shoals community's participation in the theatrical arts. We're proud of our heritage and look forward to an ongoing support from our community in our future endeavors. We are delighted to be opening the 2008-2009 season in our newly renovated home, The Grand Shoals Theatre! The Shoals Community Theatre Board made the unanimous decision to purchase this fabulous piece of history which was built in 1948. This theatre was originally the fourth largest in Alabama and was the leading movie theatre in the Shoals for 40 years. The opening film on October 21, 1948, was "That Lady in Ermine" starring Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Cesar Romero. The theatre is in building complex that was designed and built by the Rosenbaums. The original stores housed in the theatre complex at 123 North Seminary Street were; The Brother and Sister Shop, Garvin Witt Jeweler, Crump Camera Shop and Stamps Florist. The Shoals originally had 1350 seats including a balcony. The theatre featured Voice of the Theatre Sound equipment and had a compete duplicating set that could be activated by a snap of a switch in case of failure. The theatre was the first theatre in the south to feature the Slide-back chairs, which can be retracted 6 inches with a shove of the body to make it easier for entrance and exits in the rows. The theatre closed in 1980. After many years of being used as other venues, we have come full circle with The Shoals and are anxious to bring theatre to downtown Florence for years to come. The newly renovated theatre includes a brand new full performance stage with a state of the art lighting system, newly placed curtains and proscenium, new art decor in the lobby and concession areas which is period for the 1948 era, complete renovation of the basement and underground area for storage, a new trap door area and multi level side vignettes for scene performances, as well as renovated office area upstairs for the meetings of the Shoals Community Theatre Board. Thanks to the tireless efforts of so many people and hours and hours of work, we are realizing a dream come true as the curtain rises on this 2008-2009 season. From the new lighted sign atop the marquee to the professional dance and performance stage, we celebrate our success with you. Phase Two of the renovations of the Shoals Theatre will include remodeling the balcony to feature tables with club chair seating for corporate and private seatings and parties. Seating capacity is now 704 after renovations. Both wings of the Shoals Community Theatre. Zodiac Players and Gingerbread Players. will be performing all shows at the Shoals! We are maintaining the old Zodiac Theatre building and it is calledThe Shoals Little Theatre. This venue can be rented as well as the Shoals Theatre building.