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Friday, April 18, 2008

It's Showtime!

There’s a community theater in a small town in Manley, Nebraska called The Lofte Theater. I haven’t been to it in about fifteen years but I really want to go back. It looks like a barn on the inside and out, and is kind of out in the middle of nowhere, between Lincoln and Omaha. When I was there last they didn’t have air conditioning so it got a little sticky at times. Personally I think that added to the cache of the place, but they have since added the AC feature. The Lofte Theater was started back in 1977 by a lady named Diane Reece. She was a English, Speech and Drama teacher at an elementary school when she discovered there was a lot of talent in the area. She dreamed of a place where people could gather to perform or watch local talents. She contacted a man named Howard Rathe, who owned a homestead and an 80 year old barn. That summer they “remodeled” the barn, added a stage, cleaned out the barn “grime” (can you imagine what that consisted of), borrowed folding chairs from a local funeral home, and added theater lights made of coffee cans and lightbulbs. The first show was Godspell and was a huge hit. Today they have over 11,000 audience members and are in their 31st year.