Quincy Community Theatre (QCT) has been delighting audiences with musicals, mysteries, comedies, and dramas since 1923. Originally named the Quincy Community “Little” Theatre, the organizers pursued their craft by presenting two or three plays a year at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
The Little Theatre was formally organized in 1928 by Mrs. Charles Dazey (wife of the famous Broadway playwright, Charles Dazey) and by Paul Weisenborn, an attorney in Quincy. At this time, plays were being produced in Quincy at the old Empire Theatre.
In the early 1930’s smaller shows moved to the old First Baptist Church, a move that made year round productions possible—however, major productions were still staged at the Empire Theatre. When using the church was no longer possible, the plays were staged at the Quincy Senior High School auditorium.
During WWII, the shortage of male actors forced theatre activities to cease. When the theatre finally resumed productions, in 1953, it was as an outdoor summer theatre. For the next ten years, the productions were held on the lawn of the Art Barn, located on historic Maine Street.
The theatre found its first permanent home at 13th and Payson Avenue in 1964 with the purchase of the former Trinity Parish Hall. The first full-time managing director was hired in 1973, and other staff positions were added as growth continued. Barbara Rowell became the Managing and Artistic Director in 1983. Rowell had been involved at the Quincy Community Little Theatre since 1957 in many capacities including actor, director, and board member. She directed the theatre’s first musical production in 1969.
In April of 1989, the theatre joined forces with the Civic Center Authority and the Quincy Convention and Visitors Bureau and applied for a state grant to be used to build a Civic Center/Theatre complex. This $5.6 million grant was awarded on July 2, 1990.
The $1.25 million goal for matching funds was reached two years later on September 18th. Construction of the new complex was completed in the spring of 1995. In the new location, members voted to rename the organization, dropping “Little” to become Quincy Community Theatre. The 498-seat theatre was dedicated on September 8, 1995 with an inaugural performance entitled “Memories-A Musical Revue.” In 1998, the theatre celebrated 75 years of its founding.
Barbara Rowell was Managing Artistic Director from 1983 until 2006. Dominic A. Cattero, the previous Director of Student Theatre/Head of Education, was Managing Artistic Director from 2006 to 2011, followed by Lenny Bart from 2011 to 2013. In July 2014 the Board of Directors decided to split the position, creating an Executive Director and an Artistic Director. Brandon Thomsen, the previous Director of Student Theatre/Head of Education was selected as Artistic Director and Dan Conboy was named Executive Director. After an amazing run, Dan Conboy retired as Executive Director and in June 2019, QCT then welcomed Sara Rueschel as the new Executive Director.
Due to the break in performances during WWII, the theatre celebrated its 75th Season in 2012 with a 75th Season Fund Drive. Throughout the year, QCT raised nearly $65,000 to replenish its Student Theatre Scholarships and for needed upgrades to its facility.
We hope future generations of the Tri-state area will perpetuate our dreams and continue to preserve the vision of community theatre.