Corinth Theatre-Arts has grown to be one of the most outstanding community theatres in Mississippi in only 40-plus years. When it was formed in March, 1968, it was organized to present theatre, concerts, art exhibits and other art-related areas to the Corinth-Alcorn County community.
One of the prime movers behind the founding of CT-A was H. L. “Sandy” Williams, president of the Corinth-Alcorn Area Chamber of Commerce in 1968. Original board of directors was A. H. “Lon” Taylor Jr., president; O.R. “Sammy” Smith Jr., secretary; Dr. E.A. “Boogie” White III, treasurer; Mrs. Doug Hammond; Liddon McPeters; Mrs. Maury Whitfield; John Henderson; A. B. Isbell and Mrs. Ellis Perry. The first membership drive was held August 1968 with sponsors paying $100, patrons $30 and season members $7.50 per ticket. The first production, “The Egg and I,” opened on Sept. 26, 1968.
Corinth Theatre-Arts used numerous school auditoriums for stage space until 1972. The Tri-State Fair Association had ceased using exhibit buildings on the city-owned fairgrounds land and Mayor John D. Mercier wondered if Corinth Theatre-Arts might make use of them as a permanent playhouse. Cyrill Mallett — a New Yorker who had been hired as resident director — led a volunteer crew in adapting the structures (by scrounging materials) into the Crossroads Playhouse. Mallett returned to New York, however, before directing a single play. The first presentation in the new playhouse was “Of Mice and Men” in March 1973.
Corinth Theatre-Arts has had many talented directors, both guest and resident: Sylvia Beasley, Ron Hamilton, Cyrill Mallett, Max Young, Conchita Wallace, Mavis Labas, Mark Wagner, Marty Hansen, Hud Hickman, Lynn West, Kathryn Hill, Lynn Wroten, Rae Marsh, Bob Carver, Jo Anderson, Frank Chapin, Raymond Burgin, Mary Ann Rodman, Marshall St. Clair, Scott Conley, Larry Cox, Will Stutts, David Moore, Tamsie West, Murray Chase, Chris Wooten, Autry Davis, Joan Hazel, Myra Byrnes, Jennifer Winters, Petey Pace, Jason Gonzalez, Victoria Blake, Sandy LeBlanc, Dr. Laurie McBride, Lynda Whitfield, R. Andrew Strickland, Timothy Hodges, Katie Simons, Daniel Inouye, Christopher Schager, Kelly Gilson, David Maxedon, Tyson Stephenson and Cristina Skinner.
A spin-off of Corinth Theatre-Arts has been the formation of the Theatre Guild in 1979 as a support group. The Guild has been the guiding force behind many fundraising events, such as the Critics’ Choice Cookbooks. They were also instrumental in establishing the Magnolia Awards Galas.
A major renovation of the Playhouse was completed in 1982, centering around the addition of a large work and storage room on the northeast corner. The stage-high area also provides wing room and features a loading dock. Dressing rooms, make-up rooms, restrooms and the concession area also were expanded; a new director’s office was built and the lobby was redecorated. In 1990, CT-A replaced the wooden seats, originally acquired from the old Cruise Street School auditorium, with overstuffed movie theatre seats from a Malco theatre in the Old Hickory Mall in Jackson, Tenn.
In May 2010, the CT-A’s Crossroads Playhouse was wrecked by historic flood waters. The Crossroads Playhouse is no stranger to flooding. It was the fifth time the playhouse has flooded in the past 12 years. The water level reached 30-inches this time. The water entered the building and flooded the auditorium area all the way to the back but spared covering the back two rows of seating.
During the years, CT-A has had many ups and downs and there have been many changes, both good and bad. Through it all, many volunteers generously have given their time, talents and money so that this vision of a non-profit arts organization in the Alcorn-Corinth area would be successful — and survive. CT-A has given years of memories for this community. Please join us as our quest to bring arts and entertainment to northeast Mississippi, to help educate youngsters in our tri-state area and to economically stimulate our area through the promotion of tourism. CT-A is nothing other than a community of volunteers committed to the arts and we need you — the community!