Theatre Tallahassee was founded on February 10th, 1949 as Tallahassee Little Theatre (TLT). The first play that was produced under that name was Boy Meets Girl presented on May 17th, 1949.
In 1952, Tallahassee Little Theatre incorporated to become a non-profit organization whose mission was to further and promote a community understanding of the literary and dramatic arts.
In 1957, Mr. and Mrs. Guy Winthrop, along with Mr. Winthrop’s sister Evelyn Randolph, donated 3.1 acres of land near the corner of Thomasville and Betton Roads to TLT. A building fund was begun, life memberships were established, and little by little Tallahassee Little Theatre began to have a more permanent physical home. By the end of 1961, TLT had a Stage House that included rehearsal space, workshop and property storage as well as a stage, seating area and heating. In 1974, air conditioning refined the theatregoers experience even further.
Although TLT experimented over the years with various numbers of plays and formats; the five play Mainstage season has remained since 1982. In years since, the amount of theatrical activity has been greatly increased through summer productions, Reader’s Theatre, a Coffeehouse series of blackbox theatre (begun in 1994 in the east lobby) and other special events.
In 1991, TLT again expanded its borders. Thanks to the dream of then-president Lois Sojat, her board of directors and private donors who matched a grant from the Knight Foundation, as well as a major grant from the State of Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the theatre grew to include an enlarged west lobby, a new east lobby (the Magnolia Room), a new scene shop/rehearsal area, and a 259-seat auditorium featuring an enlarged stage and improved lighting and sound features. The new building was dedicated on May 1, 1994, almost forty-five years to the day since the theatre was first organized.
All Grown Up
In 2012, lifetime member Rosalee Wyman left a legacy donation to Tallahassee Little Theatre that enabled the theatre to begin the process of renovating and updating the building to sustain it into the future. Renovations were begun in the summer of 2013, starting with the Mainstage auditorium. The updates to the auditorium include all new seating, carpeting, paint, a new sound system, fire suppression features, and house lighting. In 2015, renovations to the Coffeehouse theatre were completed, turning the space into a fully functional black-box performance space, with a bar, updated sound system, and more comfortable seating. Administrative offices were added, and dressing rooms expanded to accommodate larger casts. Further renovation plans include transforming the Magnolia room into a formal lobby with an expanded canteen area and comfortable seating.
From Tallahassee Little Theatre to Theatre Tallahassee
Over the years, the idea of changing the name of the theatre has been put forth many times. More than twenty five years ago, it was suggested that "Little" be dropped from the name, as the theatre was clearly outgrowing the word. With the new renovations and the goal of moving Tallahassee Little Theatre into the future, the Board of Trustees and the Executive Director moved that the name change finally take place. On August 24, 2013, Tallahassee Little Theatre officially changed its name to Theatre Tallahassee.