Biloxi Little Theatre Welcomes You!
Located in east Biloxi, the playhouse is housed in a historic building at 220 Lee Street, south of the Biloxi Kroc Center and north of the Deer Island cut. Parts of the building date to the 1920s. Amenities include handicapped parking and accessibility, dual air conditioning and heating, and lighted and patrolled parking areas.
Hurricane Katrina devastated the district, and the theatre was seriously damaged. A major renovation took place and improvements are ongoing.
We work to make Biloxi Little Theatre uncommon. We produce plays that other local theatres won’t. We don’t edit our plays for content, and we offer a wide array of material. We work hard to keep our prices reasonable. We charge $20 for musicals, $15 for general admission, and $12 for seniors, students, and active military. We also offer season tickets at various levels, program advertising, and production sponsorship.
The arts are what make any community an interesting place to live, and Biloxi Little Theatre has been a part of the local arts scene since 1946. For sixteen years we’ve offered summer teen shows; now we’re moving into programs for younger children; and we’re always ready to take a shot at something new. Come join us! Buy a ticket; encourage your friends to do the same! Work back stage, volunteer in the lobby, audition for a part! And help us spread the word about just how special theatre can be!
In 1946 in answer to a need for a live theatre performing arts group in Biloxi, actress Jane Wood Pringle and a handful of interested people--which included wannabe thespians; potential directors and others such as Bernice Catanese, who would be perfectly happy working in any capacity backstage--met in a basement room beneath Mrs. Pringle’s home next door to her father’s famous Wood Estate. Note: Mrs. Pringle’s home still stands and is now a bed and breakfast. Her father’s home was destroyed in 1969 by Hurricane Camille.
The newly organized board of directors chose The Little Theatre of Biloxi as their official name, and this is how the community theatre group is registered with the state of Mississippi. Also selected at this meeting was the first production: a play entitled “Love from a Stranger,” which featured Mrs. Pringle and a young airman named Murray Hamilton, who was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base. Mrs. Pringle was impressed with the young man’s talent and suggested that he pursue a serious acting career. Note: Mr. Hamilton became a well-known supporting actor in no fewer than 22 major Hollywood films.
The first production of The Little Theatre of Biloxi garnered much-deserved attention and convinced the fledgling theatre group that they should, indeed, continue with their aspirations. Productions were presented wherever a venue could be found. During the following two decades, the two most frequently used stages were found in the Biloxi Community House on Central Beach just east of Main Street and in the auditorium of Biloxi Central High School on East Howard Avenue on the corner of Bellman, across the avenue from the northernmost corner of the Wood Estate. Note: The Biloxi Community House was also a victim of Hurricane Camille, and now a towering retirement center stands on the site.
During the latter of the first two decades, other actors and actresses appeared in Little Theatre of Biloxi productions and left the Mississippi Gulf Coast to appear in plays on Broadway, in Hollywood films, and on television. Among these are Richard Winterstein, Helen Jolly, and Glenn St. Amant. Mr. St. Amant made his debut on television as one of the two shepherd dancers in the first NBC-TV live color telecast of the opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and on Broadway as a dancer in the musical “Plain and Fancy,” starring Alexis Smith.
Through the generosity of a local lumber company owner who donated his time, energy, and supplies in order to construct most of the sets, the leaders of the Biloxi were convinced that The Little Theatre of Biloxi, now frequently referred to as Biloxi Little Theatre or, simply, BLT, could use the basement rooms of the Meaut Community House, formerly a church, to store their growing number of set pieces and stage properties as well as a place where they could construct the sets. Quite often construction and assembly would spread out into the parking lot to the south of this building on Lee Street. It wasn’t long before residents began to expect to see, near and during production week, a line of theatre volunteers carrying set pieces, flats, and platforms four-and-a-half blocks down the street to the school auditorium, where the play was scheduled to be presented.
Finally, during the time that Mayor Jerry O’Keefe was in office, one of the guest directors, who was more often a scenic designer/artist, approached the mayor with the proposition that BLT should become the lessee of the community house where the sets were being built and stored. The mayor responded with an equitable agreement to allow the amateur theatre group to produce their plays upstairs on the main floor. However, there were a couple stipulations: One large room downstairs could still be used as a meeting room as well as a voting precinct, and upstairs a group could hold a Bingo one night each week.
This was an agreeable arrangement for a while—until it became inconvenient to have to dismantle a set before Bingo night and reassemble the set on the following night for dress rehearsal. Once again, it was necessary to communicate with the city fathers.
Once the city of Biloxi gave exclusive use of the auditorium to the community theatre group, interior structural changes began. The stage area was widened, and several rooms that flanked the original stage were removed to give small wing space on each side. A balcony at the rear of the auditorium was converted to a light-and-sound booth and was used to store costumes. Soon plans were drawn and executed to create levels in the style of either stadium or lecture-room seating, giving each audience member an unobstructed view of the action on the stage.
The Biloxi Little Theatre continues to enjoy popularity through its recent successful productions in its Lee Street home, which now has an elevator to assist those unable to use stairs.
Biloxi Little Theatre | 220 Lee Street, Biloxi, MS 39531 | P: (228) 432-8543 | F: (228) 392-7639