RCT to enjoy new building for weekend musical

Photo credit: Jenn Kilpatrick

By Kyle Roberts

There’s no place like home.

Sure, you’ve heard that before, and many times likely, but those five words ring truer than ever for the seasoned veterans of the Ruston Community Theater as this weekend an ensemble cast and crew of familiar faces will put on the first musical at what has been unofficially dubbed the “RCT Building” on 504 E. Georgia in Ruston.

“It’s awesome and so fun to have a space we can rehearse in as well as perform in,” Britton Kilpatrick said. “This space allows us to come together any time or day of the week we want, and we don’t have to worry about other schedules. It’s been really great to do this production here. The experience is going to be different, but for some shows like “Smoke on the Mountain,” it’s a more appropriate atmosphere. The musical is set in a small country baptist church, and this allows us to have an atmosphere more like that.”

Ruston Community Theater has been nearly synonymous with the Dixie Theater for decades now, and while that relationship will continue with the four regular shows per show, the new venue for RCT will offer new opportunities for shows and rehearsals like never before.

This particular weekend will be the first regular RCT show in the new building, as other smaller performances have already been previously conducted this past summer. The plan is to utilize the space as a black box theater with other smaller productions and allow for coordinated rehearsals for shows. In the past, RCT has had to find different places in town to rehearse such as schools, churches, and even the courthouse.

MaryBelle Tuten has been affectionately titled the historian of the RCT and talked about how the group was able to come to the building.

“In 1977, RCT was founded by several Ruston leaders,” Tuten said. “We were very nomadic for many years because we did not have a facility. We just performed wherever we could find a space; churches and schools, there was even a show a long time ago at Cedar Creek at one of their sports stadiums. In 2006 when the Dixie opened, we became a priority partner, and we rent space to do our shows.”

The “RCT Building” not only will be home to plays and shows, it now is key for housing costumes and set pieces, which in the past proved quite a task to keep an inventory as items have been placed in different storage areas all over town. This led to pieces either getting lost or having to be thrown out, and the new space allows for pieces to be preserved and reused.

RCT was able to purchase the building in large part due to a generous donation from a community partner who wishes to remain anonymous. The purchase was finalized in the fall of 2021, and multiple renovations have been conducted this year through the guidance of RCT president Mark Graham and in coordination with hundreds of hours of volunteer time from community members.

Tami Alexander conducts youth theater camps and coaching sessions and shared her excitement for what the building can offer the community.

“It’s a game changer,” Alexander said. “We’ve started a drama club this year so that students can come once a week, and they have a space where they can work on perfecting their craft. That’s huge for us. We’ll be able to do camps, and there will be a lot more opportunities for them. It’s really awesome.”

While the name of the building remains unofficial, there will be a board vote in the future to christen it with a new name.

Directed by Dee Alexander, “Smoke on the Mountain” will be showing in the “RCT Building” Thursday through Sunday of this week (Oct. 6-9). For more information on where to purchase tickets, visit rctruston.org.

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