The mission of the Holland Civic Theatre is to encourage performing arts through education and experience in the production of theatre for the recreation and entertainment of the local community which supports it.
The Holland Civic Theatre began as the Holland Community Theatre in 1960, performing at Holland High School’s Performing Arts Center for many years. Eventually, the name was amended to Holland Civic Theatre. As time went on, HCT needed a place to call home, so the building at 50 West 9th Street was purchased. A group of volunteers set out to make this former Episcopal Church into a theatrical performance space. The building was painted, updated, renovated, fitted for seating and a stage was built.
Holland Civic Theatre is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, driven by the support of volunteers and gifts from generous donors, both individual and corporate. Through patron ticket programs and other fundraising endeavors, HCT is able to provide live theatre and educational performance programs for all ages.
Holland Civic Theatre is always interested in opportunities to partner with area businesses and organizations and always seeking investors for underwriting the shows we produce.
A meeting at EE Fell Jr. High – a group of people interested in theatre set up a table in the hallway to solicit others who had a like interest.
Out of this beginning the Holland Community Theatre was formed – with Vern Stillwell (Hope College theatre), Nona Penna (Holland teacher), E. Dale Conklin, (Hope College Student), and Lillian Ketchum (Netherland Information Office Secretary). Several others joined the first year.
The first season of one acts rehearsed in living rooms and performed at the Women’s Literary Club.
First full season – performed at the Literary Club. Rehearsals – 3rd floor of the Hope College Science building – now Vander Werf Hall.
Rehearsals moved to the 3rd floor of the City Hall- Netherland Information Office meeting room – Sets were built in Warren Wickers Office. Modern communications set up – a rope and bell out of Wickers window down 3 floors to street – workers pulled rope-ring bell younger builder go down 3 flights and let them in. First big show was Teahouse of the August Moon – Rehearsed all over – City Hall, Library, a school, etc.
First musical – South Pacific – rehearsals in grocery store on south side of Michigan Ave. (now torn down), moved to Ten Harmsel Furniture Store on Van Raalte & 19th. Set construction in Tornovich’s Fish Building garage on 160th Avenue near the old Harrington School. They only worked when it didn’t rain. Performed at Holland High Performing Arts Center – the first of many productions at that venue. Cinderella rehearsed on the 2nd floor of Van Raalte Hall-Hope College.
The first of several shows rehearsed at 131 N. River, Raphael Drapery Building – show The Pajama Game staring Bud Raphael as the boss of the factory in the show. Also rehearsed Harvey here.
We found a permanent home for several years – factory at East 19th street – became the bus garage in later years.
Moved across the street to 177 ½ E. 19th – right next to the train tracks. Take Me Along and several other shows rehearsed here.
Later we moved into the downstairs also and stayed for several years. For these last 5 years we were able to build sets at the same location as rehearsal area.
Moved to the rear of the building 178 E. 18th St. with the entry on 18th Street.
Needing more room and lower rent we moved to a machine shop at 255 W. 22nd St. – the grease and oil on floor required a lot of work to clean. Our lighting was a series of extension cords strung across the 30’ x 50’ area and bare light bulbs.
Moved rehearsals to 85 S. River – 4th & River former 7-Up office building and Tulip Time souvenir shop in May. Rehearsed Chicago! and South Pacific here.
WE FOUND HOME!
We purchased the Red Tulip Antique Building on land contract – 50 W. 9th Street. We had enough room to rehearse and build sets on the same night. We were still holding our performances at Holland High Performing Arts Center. This building is over 90 years old and was the former Episcopal Church. We begin holding Bingo Games every Monday night to raise enough money to pay the land contract and utilities. Somewhere around this time we changed our name to Holland Civic Theatre. It was felt that we had grown to include the greater Holland Area not just the small Community.
We took on the project of turning the front half of the building into a small theatre – and with lots of help from the bank – our summer project became Holland Civic Theatre. Our first production was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Our little theatre seats 102 people – we now run our shows 9 performances instead of 3 in the large auditorium.
We began an association with Tulip Time. We held 7 dinner-theatre performances at West Ottawa Performing Arts Center. Our first show was The Fantasticks. We continued the dinner and shows for another 7 years.
In collaboration with the staff at Dutch Village our talented crew wrote an original production for the winter festival at the Village – Sinterklaas Comes to Molendorp – which we presented seven or eight times in the little theatre at the Village. This show continued until the Christmas of 1996.
We began working with Tulip Time again doing just the production. In 2003 we began presenting our Tulip Time production at our theatre at 50 W. 9th Street. We continue to do seven performances over the 2 weekends of Tulip Time. The shows are usually 90% filled. This year marked our 12th consecutive year presenting either a musical or a comedy in our theatre for the festival. It’s been a long and happy relationship!