Community Theatre returns with St. Marys Little Theatre

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The idea of bringing back community theatre was conceived after the Coastal Georgia Film Alliance discovered many talented residents who don’t have a year-round outlet for their talent. Recent film and television productions gave locals the opportunity to work with performance arts, and the Crooked Rivers productions offer locals a chance to be onstage for an annual performance. Students have myriad performance and theatre support opportunities at the local high school. But Camden County adults desiring to be involved in year-round performances had to go north to Glynn County or south to northeast Florida venues to practice their art…until now.

St. Marys Little Theatre founder Barbara Ryan was so impressed by the talent pool in Camden County, she decided the time was right to establish a community theatre. With the assistance of a Board of Directors that include an international singing star, an award-winning playwright, a set design professional, and an entertainment industry pioneer, Ryan feels confident that the organization is well positioned to bring stellar theatrical performances to St. Marys.

“The mission of the St. Marys Little Theatre is to enrich lives and enhance the cultural composition of the arts in Camden County,” Ryan said. “We plan to accomplish that mission through community participation in theater education, live performances, workshops, and other outreach programs associated with theater arts.”
Ryan said the theatre will provide a forum for aspiring youths to develop as well.

“Research shows that young people who participate in community theatre have the opportunity to develop skills such as improved communication, critical thinking, and social skills—all key components of any self-development program,” Ryan said. “For people of all ages, sharing the community theatre experience can enhance the understanding of themselves and others.”

Ryan will serve as chair of the newly formed St. Marys Little Theatre, and L. J. Williams will serve as vice chair. Williams said that the theatre group plans to “inspire, nurture, challenge, amaze, educate, and empower artists and audiences” throughout Camden County and beyond.

“Our goal is to develop—over time—into a regional destination so that people from outlying areas will be drawn to patronize the theatre and thereby gain exposure to a new diversity of cultural arts,” Williams said.

Though the theatre group doesn’t now have its own building to call home, that is their ultimate goal.

Williams said that, in the meantime, there are two good venues for performances in downtown St. Marys—Southern Junction and I Live Center of the Arts, and the SMLT board will be talking to the owners of both about performances.

According to Williams and Ryan, the first two performances for SMLT are indicative of the variety the SMLT plans to offer. “Man of La Mancha” is slated to be the group’s first production. Ryan admits that a more challenging first production would be hard to find but feels that it will set the stage for audience expectations and establish a precedent for the kind of quality the theatre will deliver. The second production will be a musical based on the history of St. Marys—a historically accurate depiction of the milestones that have shaped the legacy of St. Marys. According to Ryan, to get a preview of that production, all one has to do is visit the new St. Marys Welcome Center and read the historic mural that is displayed there.

“There will be a scene to correlate with each milestone depicted on the mural, beginning with the Timucuan Indians right on through to the establishment of Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base,” Ryan said. “This entire production will be based on an original script and music score that we hope the community will help us create.”
The SMLT Board invites the public to view the mural, and anyone who is musically inclined and would like to write one of the scenes (and/or correlating songs) to get in touch with the board by making contact at

“We’re amazed at the talent that is in our community,” Ryan said, “and we want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to express their talents whether it’s through writing, acting, making costumes, or behind the scenes support.”

The St. Marys Little Theatre is a Georgia nonprofit organization and plans to raise funds through grants, membership drives, corporate sponsorships, fundraising events, admissions, and private donors.

Barbara Ryan, Chair
L. J. Williams, Vice Chair
Chuck Porter, Secretary/Treasurer
Jeanne Vaught
Dr. Christina Johns
Diana Ewen
Jim Kelly
Marshall Rowland

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