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Murder in the Magnolias: A Winter Success

From auditions to performances, and royalties to advertising, the success of a ‘winter play’ depends on many variables. It’s not always easy to break even or especially, make a profit. However, Ouachita Little Theatre’s adaptation of Murder in the Magnolias has proven that it can be done. The success of Murder in the Magnolias has been attributed to the constant change of how things are operated inside the theatre.

Tim Hesse, director of Murder in the Magnolias, developed a workshop style that was new to some and welcome by most. From the beginning, each character was at least double-cast, and some roles had as many as four or five people. The point was to gain new actors, lighting and sound technicians, stage hands, etc., and broaden the talents of the OLT.  It worked. It allowed the community to come in and see how a production comes together, what a commitment it takes to be included, and whether the theatre is really a place for them.

As with any live show, there is always the chance of injury or illness keeping an actor from performing. The double-cast workshop also insured that each role would be filled for all 9 performances.

“The workshop was a great experience. Being double-cast for the part of Jezabel allowed Anne and I to learn from one another, making us better able to perform the part given. It was great to have someone, who knows the part as well as I do, to get advice from on how to better portray the role,” stated Melanie Buck. She continued with a chuckle, “It was also great to not have the pressure of 9 performances on my back, five was plenty.”

Not only did Murder in the Magnolias bring in more participants, it also brought in a bigger profit. By the time royalties are paid, sets are built, costumes are made, and all other bills are paid, there is usually not much left, sometimes nothing at all. However, that is not the case with this production.

The play was well received by the community and surrounding areas bringing in much needed commerce for the theatre. “Hilarious,” “Belly busting,” “Entertaining,” and, “Worth the time to watch again,” were some of the comments heard around the water coolers. Some patrons drove as far as two hours to watch the production, proving that OLT has made a name for themselves far beyond the county lines.

After all costs ($2066.14, including royalties, public relations, set, costumes, props, scripts, etc.), were subtracted from the income (box office and concessions), the total profit is $1,918.49. Part of this is due to the highly praised Dinner Theatre at Mena Mountain Resort. That performance alone brought in $1350, setting the stage for more dinner theatres to come.

In theatre, what begins as a vision turns into a reality. If you are interested in becoming a part of the vision at Ouachita Little Theatre, visit www.oltmena.com or call 479-243-0186. Even if the stage is not for you, there is always something else you can do to add to the success of OLT.

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