With a year-round schedule of productions, a vibrant children’s series and a growing downtown presence, the West T. Hill Community Theatre has come a long way from its one-room beginnings in 1980.
Karen Logue, the theater’s managing director, was part of the gathering that formed the group three decades ago.
“A meeting was held at Danville City Hall by Mr. Hill and others who wanted to start a theater,” she recalls.
“We began performing anywhere we could – the courthouse, schools and churches, even city hall. It’s hard to believe it’s been 30 years since then.”
Named for Hill, who chaired the dramatic arts department at Centre College, the theater operated a black-box space out of Centre College’s dramatic arts department for almost a decade before purchasing its Off-Off Broadway theater at 117 Larrimore Lane in downtown Danville.
The 125-seat theater has now been joined by new offices on Third Street, named West’s Wing in honor of the founder. Both sites are bustling thanks to the year-round slate of productions and a young people’s program that began in response to demand.
“Every time we held auditions for a show that had one or two children’s parts, they’d show up in throngs,” she says.
“Beth Marlowe was working with the youth from time to time, and she became the director of our Youth Off-Broadway program once we got that going.”
The youth usually do three full-length productions each year, as well as events for Halloween and other special occasions. Marlowe also produces three summer camps and organizes outreach programs for the schools. As for the main troupe, there’s never a dull moment – and not much in the way of down time.
“We’re never dark, which is amazing,” Logue says.
“We have about 300 regular, annual patrons, and we have a wonderful group of local community businesses who sponsor our shows. We only run a show for two weekends, so we usually sell out almost every performance.”
The theater welcomes community input and hosts a play-reading week in March. Anyone who’s interested can come to the theater, read shows and help select the upcoming works.
“We’ve done that for several years, and it’s always so much fun,” Logue says. “This is a wonderfully saturated arts town. Nobody really competes – there’s room for everybody.”