Town & Gown Players Celebrate 56 Years of Service to Region

Thursday, June 18, 2015

You could call the Town & Gown Players theatre trailblazers. When Fairmont State launched its summer theatre program in the summer of 1960, it was the first of its kind in West Virginia.

Jo Ann Lough and Lawrence Wallman of the Fairmont State (then College) Department of Speech and Dramatics led the launch of the Players that began with one production that year, the hit British comedy “The Reluctant Debutante,” directed by Lough.

After three successful seasons in the Hardway Hall Auditorium, the renovation of the administration building left the troupe of players without a home. Rather than take a summer off, their next home was in a “dry-rotted, blue and tan tent” purchased by Wallman and set up in a parking lot near the library, and a very successful season of four shows was presented.

Town and Gown Players stayed in the tent for almost 10 years until Wallman Hall opened in 1973, and this has been their “official” home since then. The Players have also presented shows in the Prickett’s Fort Amphitheatre, the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg, the Thomas Community Center and several other venues in North Central West Virginia.

Town & Gown seeks to fulfill a multi-faceted, community-oriented mission: To provide a wide variety of affordable, family oriented theatrical entertainment; to make theatre accessible by producing plays in a variety of venues in multiple locations; to provide Fairmont State theatre students and community volunteers with opportunities to work with theatre professionals in a professionally oriented setting; and to provide educational and performance opportunities for children and youth in North Central West Virginia.

“Town & Gown brings together the resources and talent of FSU and the surrounding communities in a true collaborative enterprise that brings exciting and inspiring theatre to North Central West Virginia,” said FSU theatre professor John O’Connor about the purpose of the Players.

Continuing the tradition of providing high quality theatre for the community, the Players present Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man” at Prickett’s Fort State Park in June.

Remaining performances are June 18, 19, 20 and 21. Show time is 8 p.m. each day. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $8 for children ages 12 and younger. To purchase tickets, contact the Box Office at (304) 367-4240. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.