Theatre Memphis

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Theatre Memphis is a non-profit community theatre located in Memphis, Tennessee. As one of the oldest and most successful community theatres in the country, Theatre Memphis has offered an opportunity for people with every degree of talent to become part of the creative process.[1] The building houses two separate stages - the Lohrey MainStage, which seats 400, and the smaller black-box theatre, the Next Stage, which seats 100.


Theatre Memphis was founded in 1920 and presented three one-act plays as its first performance on May 20, 1921. In 1925, the theatre opened its doors to its first permanent home, housed in a former stable. By 1929, the theatre had moved to its second permanent home on the east wing of the Pink Palace, the unfinished mansion of Piggly Wiggly founder, Clarence Saunders. Eugart Yerian, a graduate of Pasadena Playhouse in California, arrived in 1932 as theatre director and served in that position until 1961. In 1962, Sherwood Lohrey was named theatre director where he remained until his retirement in 1995. Theatre Memphis opened its doors on its current location in East Memphis on May 1, 1975.[2] In recent years, Theatre Memphis has expanded its personnel to 14 full-time staff members and over 700 volunteers. They have also upgraded their current facilities, expand community outreach and consistently balance annual budgets [3]

Debbie Litch[edit]

In 2004, Debbie Litch was named Executive Producer.[4] Litch is credited with turning around the failing theatre.[5] During her tenure, season and single ticket sales have increased 25%. In 2009, two musicals were extended because of sold-out houses.


Showagon is the educational component of Theatre Memphis whose four actors present a variety of productions that tour to local schools, libraries and other locations.[6]

Notable Productions[edit]

Theatre Memphis presents an annual production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol begun by Sherwood Lohrey in 1978.[7] In 2010, the show was presented with an all-new redesigned set after the old one had been used for the previous 32 years [8]


In 2011, Theatre Memphis was recognized by the American Association of Community Theatres for outstanding service to community theatres. Some of the accomplishments cited included a balanced budget for 6 consecutive years while increasing operating budgets by 50%, consistent artistic excellence recognition for productions and staff from local, state and national organizations and adding additional staff for production consistency and quality. They were also recognized for their education and outreach programs and for developing innovative projects to raise funds, patrons, and awareness.[9]


Coordinates: 35°06′51″N 89°54′30″W / 35.1142°N 89.9083°W / 35.1142; -89.9083