BY MELANIE BUCK –
For years Ouachita Little Theatre supporters have been struggling with seats that were installed during the Eisenhower administration in the 1950’s. Recently Bill Hays, OLT Treasurer, located some very nice used seats that were being replaced by a church in Hot Springs. The church needed the chairs removed quickly, so by email ballot the board decided to act on the offer and organized a convoy of trailers to Hot Springs.
Bill Hays, Monte Barrow, Justin Goodnight, Scott O’Rear and his wife, and Rudi Timmerman dodged the rain and brought 220 chairs back to the theatre where Jared Spangler, Tyler Lane, Casey Bass, Trey LaCoste, Scotty Jenkins, Zack Pearson, Nicholas Worth, Brad Storey, and Robby Burt helped unload the chairs. “While OLT’s credit is good, eventually the piper must be paid,” said Timmerman.
To pay for the new seats, Judy Kropp, OLT Secretary, started a GoFundMe account online, which can be accessed through the Ouachita Little Theatre Facebook page. “It is hoped that through this effort, as well as other direct donations, the chairs will be paid for. The estimated cost of the chairs, the removal of the old chairs and the installation of the new chairs will approach $3000,” Timmerman said.
On their GoFundMe site Kropp stated, “OLT and its junior organization (JOLT) provide the Polk County community with a number of performances, year-round, including plays, dramatic, comedic, and musical, recitals, one-person shows, in addition to quarterly gatherings of local talent, performing as musical groups and single acts of all kinds, in an event called Saturday Night at the Lyric (SNL). We have been given an awesome opportunity to replace our 50-plus year old seats if we can raise the money. Not only will our organization be grateful for your donations, but the community will enjoy the more comfortable seats at our events. A donation over $25.00 will include your name being added on a nameplate to the seat. Thank you so much for your support!”
As part of the seat replacement project Brad Storey, OLT Vice President, said that during the momentary absence of seats, the auditorium floor will be repaired and repainted. On the stage left side of the theatre, there are joists that need to be replaced, as the floor is sagging and the beams are sliding off their supports. Storey and Jenkins will take on this project, with a little help.
“David Chaney, a young man working on his Eagle Scout Community Project, has accepted the challenge of seeing that the seats are all installed in time for our next show,” said Timmerman. The aim of the Scout project is to develop leadership and organizational skills. “While he and his group will be working hard we will need to provide additional help,” Timmerman explained. “If you are free on Monday evenings, I am sure he would appreciate your help.”
Many improvements both inside and outside the theatre have been made, with more on the drawing board. The improvements will not only make the theatre experience more pleasant, but will also add to the beatification of downtown Mena. Other improvements include a new roof, at a cost of $15,000 and sprucing up the exterior walls with a new paint job at a cost of $7,500. OLT was able to complete those projects with the help of the Arkansas Gives program, which raised over $13,000 for the theatre, and a loan from a local bank. Lorraine Timmerman was able to touch up the mural on the north facing wall and it was coated with a clear seal to preserve it for many years to come.
If you would like to help, whether my donating your time, purchasing a name plate for a seat, or a direct donation, contact Ouachita Little Theatre at 479-243-0186.