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   Nodaway Community Theater Company had its start in June of 1990.  Mary Kay McDermott (later, Jackson) and Nina Dewhirst had participated in community theaters before.  Both women had been theater majors in college–at this point, one of them (Mary Kay) wanted to direct a play; the other (Nina) wanted to act.  The idea for a community theater in Nodaway County was born.

   This was not the first community theater in Maryville.  In fact, another company with a similar name (Nodaway Community Theater) was created on January 8, 1968. Although that theater had given up its charter, two of its members–Sally Tennihill and George Hinshaw–would become charter members of the NEW Nodaway Community Theater Company, which had its inception in a meeting room at the First United Methodist Church in Maryville.  

   The first production for the fledging group (A Romantic Comedy) was performed at the old Washington Middle School in August of 1990.

   It was decided that membership would include any adult over the age of 18 who had an interest in acting or in technical theater.  Although “Nodaway” is listed in its name, the by-laws do not stipulate that members be residents of Nodaway County. In the 1990's, membership reached its peak of over 25 members.

   Additional Early Members:

   B.J. Kappel  was an integral part of the newly-formed theater group.  Her interest was in providing acting opportunities for young children as actors. Before the theater had a permanent “home”, B.J. even held rehearsals for several productions in her own residence.

   Betty Dye  was interested in community theater and encouraged her young son as an actor.  She served as producer for early NCTC plays, helping to coordinate the many aspects that go into “mounting” a production.

   Liz Mandrick will admit that she started helping in the theater because of her kids (Michael and Kati)–but she stayed because she loved it!  Liz has been an integral part of the theater, often coming up with props that no one else could find.  She has also worked extensively on sets and has been both an actress and director for NCTC’s productions.  Liz remains an active member of the organization.

   Debbie Clark taught pre-school at Horace Mann for many years, so she was a natural fit to join a group that encouraged children as actors.  Debbie has helped with productions in many ways, but her “niche” has been to serve as photographer, historian, and parent coordinator for our many productions.  Debbie is also an active member today.

   Scott Lance, along with his future wife, Nichole, first began as an actor in NCTC’s youth production of Wonderland.  Scott had gotten the “acting bug” while attending South Holt High School .  He later became an active member of NCTC, serving as actor, director, and president for the organization.  Scott continues as a member today.
   The Early Days:

   As the Company grew, it became difficult to store the costumes, props, and stage scenery that had accumulated over the years.  Before NCTC owned a permanent building, stage scenery and props were kept at members’ homes.  Costumes were stored in homes, sheds, garages, donated office space, or the Methodist Church’s Agape House.

   Plays were performed at various sites, including Washington Middle School, Charles Johnson Theatre, Mary Linn Theatre, Roxy Theatre (in Hopkins, Missouri), a restaurant, Maryville Country Club, and the Wesley Center.  Sometimes, rehearsals were held at places other than performance sites: at the First United Methodist Church, Hope Lutheran Church, Northwest Missouri State’s ballroom, or even members’ basements or garages.  It was sometimes difficult to coordinate practice time on the actual performance stage.  Nodaway Community Theater Company desparately needed its own “home.”

   Finding a “Home”:  

   In 2007, Barb Scott (a former member) and Scott Lance suggested NCTC’s offering classes to area 5th-8th graders:  Barb wanted to teach photography classses, and Scott wanted to offer classes in acting.  After much discussion by members, it was decided we would look for buildings that might work as a theatre.

   The group looked at an old laundromat and at the old Missouri Theatre–but each had distinct disadvantages.  The laundromat would work for classes but offered no actual place for a stage or parking for theatre-goers.  The movie theatre had no space offstage for actors to enter or a space to serve as a green room.  In addition, the building was in disrepair and had no working furnace.  Although wonderful in many ways, the theatre was also too much money for the work that needed to be done.

   The third building the group looked at was The Artisan (previously Kissinger Florist), that had been newly renovated by Fred Rohs as an art studio. There was space for a portable stage and a small audience, backstage area for actors and props, and a garage for stage scenery.  Although there was limited parking available, the space looked very promising!  The problem–financing.  Because the community theater had no credit history, it could not secure a loan.  An NCTC member secured a personal loan for the purchase and currently holds the mortage for the building at 118 West Third Street.

   Pictures and History of Kissinger Florist Shop:

   Additional Building Purchases:

   The brick building on West Third Street has unusual ownership: essentially, there are four separate properties at that site: three ownerships on the first floor and a long ownership on the second floor that spans all of the buildings below.  When NCTC purchased the property at 118 West Third Street, it owned only ONE of those four properties.

   Purchase of 118 ½ West Third Street: The long “building” that spans three buildings below was being used as storage by a local developer.  It was in disrepair, and had no working electricity or plumbing.  Although the space would be great for storage, it could only be accessed by VERY steep stairs.  If we wanted to expand, we felt we needed to, at least, consider the possibility of purchasing it.

   When we first examined the upstairs area, we were not impressed.  It was full of building materials and–frankly–junk.  We just weren’t certain we wanted the job of clearing it out.  In addition, the owner was asking too much for us to consider buying it.

   Then came the rains of Summer 2011.  The 2nd floor property provided the roof for the three properties below it.  During 2011, there was constant rain in June and July.  The owner of the upper story did not have money enough to replace a badly-deteriorated roof.  So, when the rain came, it came directly down into our space at 118 West Third Street.  The rain didn’t just LEAK into our space–it was as if there were no roof protecting us at all.  Clearly, we had to do something.  Because the owner of the upper story building was not legally obligated to repair the roof, we decided to acquire the upper story.  On August 9, 2011, NCTC purchased the property (later designated as 118 ½ West Third Street) for the cost of back taxes.  NCTC then owned TWO of the properties at this site.

   Purchase of 120 West Third Street:  Although owning our own property for a theater venue and another for storage was wonderful, we still had concerns.  If we crowded in as many chairs as possible for audience members in the theatre space, there was little room for a box office or for serving refreshments.  In addition, the audience had to pass to one side of the stage and go through the actors’ holding area in order to use the single restroom.

   We had actually looked at the 120 West Third Street property before 2011, but the property had several drawbacks.  It had most recently been an army surplus store and also had clothing stored in the back room.  Part of that property extended beyond the 2nd story, and its roof was literally falling in.  When we first looked considered purchasing the property, it was felt that the asking price and renovations were just too costly for NCTC to consider.

   The property was sold to someone else, who wanted to renovate it as an antique store.  He spent a great deal of time clearing out the space (including all the clothing that had been saturated by the 2011 rains).  However, within a few months, he decided to abandon the idea of an antique store and offered the property, again, for sale.  NCTC members decided not to pass up the opportunity for expansion.  Although there was still extensive renovation needed, an offer was made for the purchase.  On June 6, 2012, Nodaway Community Theater Company completed the purchase at 120 West Third Street and then owned THREE of the four properties at this location.

   Current Status:

   There has been extensive renovation done on the properties at 118 West Third Street (the actual theater space) and 120 West Third Street (which has been become our lobby area).  The upstairs space (118 ½ West Third Street) continues as a storage area for furniture, props, and costumes.


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