Oak Ridge will always be known for its place in history as the base of the Manhattan Project. But despite the town’s connections to the scientific community and World War II history, there really is more to the place than that.
The town of 27,000 is home to 1,282 acres of parkland, one of the largest spring-fed swimming pools in the nation, a highly-praised school system, and unique museums, shopping and restaurants. It is also the location of the Oak Ridge Playhouse, regarded as the longest continuously running theater in the Southeast.
The Oak Ridge Playhouse is a thriving community theater. It has been in continuous operation since 1943, making it nearly as old as the town itself, which was established in 1942. The playhouse is essentially a volunteer organization for the community; the playhouse pays just three full time employees. Auditions for parts are open to everyone (though requirements vary from production to production); experience is not necessarily required.
Each year the playhouse produces anywhere from four to seven shows, including musicals, comedies, dramas, variety shows and children’s plays. Productions over the years have including performances of “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Our Town,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Peter Pan,” “The Secret Garden” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Performances are typically ongoing throughout the year. Visit the Oak Ridge Playhouse website or call 865-482-9999 for ticket information.
The playhouse consists of a 344-seat auditorium, as well as dressing rooms and rehearsal space. It also operates a costume shop, which rents vintage clothing, commercial costumes and period pieces, as well as wigs and accessories. The costume shop is located on the east side of the building.
The playhouse is at 227 Broadway in Oak Ridge on Jackson Square, approximately 25 miles northwest of Knoxville. Though Oak Ridge doesn’t have a downtown per se, if it did, it would be in the historic Jackson Square area at which the playhouse is located. The playhouse is within walking distance of several unique restaurants and shops, including Big Ed’s Pizza and the original Soup Kitchen location.
The playhouse is unique in that it also houses the Oak Ridge Junior Playhouse. The junior playhouse offers programming for younger audiences and provides hands-on experience for aspiring young actors and technicians. Three of the productions produced annually by the Oak Ridge Playhouse are put on by the junior playhouse. These performances are often adapted from classic children’s literature. The junior playhouse also jointly produces with the Main Stage one large-scale production each year. The junior playhouse also hosts a Summer Academy and ACT Right after-school workshops.
The Oak Ridge Playhouse is a member many local and professional theatrical organizations, including the American Association of Community Theatres, the Arts Council of Oak Ridge, the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville, the Tennessee Theatre Association and Tennesseans for the Arts.
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