Spotlight back on Marshalltown Community Theatre

T-R PHOTOS BY TREVOR BABCOCK — Marshalltown Community Theatre Board of Directors President Lisa Naig (left) and Vice President Hobz Hooley (right) are both ready to reunite their theatre family and bring entertainment back to the stage for Marshalltown.

The show can finally go on.

Marshalltown Community Theatre (MCT) is preparing for a comeback season, with two shows in the works for this year.

“We are all really anxious to get back on stage, wherever that stage is, we don’t care,” MCT Board of Directors President Lisa Naig said.

She has been frequently asked about MCT’s return. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down in-person gatherings and the 2020 derecho destroying the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse, MCT has survived on donations to stay afloat financially.

After the derecho, Neig saw the far-reaching and tightly-knit MCT family come together. Masses of volunteers showed up on weekends to help clean up the damage and move salvagable items into storage.

The Miller Middle School auditorium where Marshalltown Community Theatre are planning at least one upcoming show.

“Each one of those Saturdays, people who have been in shows five years ago, eight years ago showed up. The family expands to this whole town. Once you’re in a show, you’re part of it. It’s hundreds of people who are a part of the family,” Naig said.

MCT recently found a new temporary venue — the Miller Middle School auditorium — but are also looking at other venues for shows in the future to increase their presence in the community.

“Careful What You Wish For,” a Halloween-themed production adapting three stories by early 1900s british author W.W. Jacobs hits the Miller Middle School stage Oct. 21 through Oct. 24. Auditions will be held Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 with a location to be determined.

MCT will then put on “The Gift of the Magi” just before Christmas, planning for a church venue and running Dec. 2 through Dec. 5 with audition dates to be determined.

Both shows feature smaller casts and limited run times, as to not overcommit amid an ongoing pandemic.

Talks have begun on winter and spring shows to round out the season, with hopes to be back at the Martha-Ellen Tye Playhouse for a summer musical — depending on how long the renovation takes.

The group’s first show since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Unconditional Surrender: A Visit with Ulysses S. Grant,” happened July 1 at the Miller Middle School auditorium. The one-man show attracted an audience of around 80, Naig said, helping raise money for updates to the auditorium while also spreading awareness about the space’s condition. MCT will present the donation check at Monday’s school board meeting.

“We’re pretty homeless right now, but Miller has been gracious enough to work with us and we are able to use that as a temporary venue until hopefully we can get back on our feet at the community center.” MCT Board of Directors Vice President Hobz Hooley said. “Most people never go into the middle school unless they’re middle schoolers, so they don’t even know that it’s this cool old building and space, but it just needs a facelift.”

He said the MCT community is used to getting together and planning shows throughout the year, but the pandemic and derecho have brought about a long break in plans.

“It’s not talking about the actual nuts and bolts of costumes and makeup, it’s what are we doing collectively to stay out there and stay visible, how are we going to eventually get through all this,” Hooley said.

He said the first show can’t come soon enough.

“What we’re doing right now is finally getting through that dry spell and actually getting back on stage and putting something out there for people to see,” Hooley said.


Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.


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