Masquerade Theatre was founded in 1989, after members of the community attended a meeting earlier that year, hosted by the Tennessee Arts Commission at the University of Tennessee at Martin, to talk about the projected growth of the arts in the 90s. Among those in attendance were Union City Arts Council members, along with Sacchi Doss, longtime dance instructor.
One of the questions Sacchi had for the Commission was, “How do we involve and promote all artists in our area – painters, writers, dancers, orators, as well as musicians?” The answer was – form a theatre!
The Union City Arts Council, later renamed the Obion County Arts Council (now dissolved), asked Sacchi to meet and discuss the possibility of forming a theatre group. They planned an organizational meeting at the then Obion County Museum on May 11, 1989, which was well attended. Sacchi, who was asked to oversee the organization of the theatre group, set the first meeting for May 30 at which time the name “Masquerade Theatre” was announced.
After visiting a director’s meeting at Nite Lite Theatre in Trenton, Tennessee, and Purchase Players, Inc., in Mayfield, Kentucky, Sacchi was encouraged by members at both meetings to appoint a board of directors and develop a set of by-laws for the new theatre group. Thus, the original seven members of the Masquerade Board of Directors appointed were: Mike Dickerson, Marti Eakin, Ryan Hargrove, Gail Latimer, Ty Lovette, Daniel Russell and Sacchi Doss.
Masquerade Theatre’s first show, “Guys and Dolls,” directed by Johnny McIIwain, opened August 17-19, 1989, to capacity crowds at the Union City Civic Auditorium. For nearly three years, the Theatre presented numerous shows throughout various locations in Union City.
In February 1992, charter board member Mike Dickerson presented, “A Capitol Idea,” – a proposal to purchase Union City’s historic Capitol Theatre, which had sat vacant since 1991. The board voted unanimously in favor of the purchase and on June 30, 1994, Masquerade Theatre became the owner of its own house. The purchase was aided in part by a grant from the State of Tennessee thanks to Senator Milton Hamilton and Representative Phillip Pinion and through support of the Tennessee Arts Commission and public donations.
The Capitol Theatre, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was originally built in 1927 and extensively renovated into an Art Deco-style building in 1939. Upon purchase, Masquerade Theatre began work to repair years of minor water damage and wear and tear to transform it into their new performance space.
Masquerade Theatre’s first performance in the newly renovated Capitol Theatre was in March 1999 when they presented, “Guys and Dolls,” directed by Johnny McIIwain who fittingly directed the same show ten years prior in Masquerade’s inaugural performance.
Three decades later, Masquerade Theatre continues to thrive, offering approximately six shows annually, including musicals, children’s productions, comedies, and dramas. It continues to make an impact on its community by supporting the local economy; attracting a diverse and educated workforce; encouraging confidence through self-expression; and inspiring new generations of artists and performers.
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