Theater group looking forward to new home base in Springboro

After almost 60 years in Montgomery County, a Kettering community-theater group is moving into Warren County and changing its name.

The Springboro Community Theatre will be moving into the city's new performing arts center, expected to open in September.

The group, previously known as Playhouse South and based at the historic Barnes building in Kettering, has committed to operating year-round from the new performing arts center at Ohio 73 and Ohio 741, Central Avenue and Main Street in Springboro. The center is expected to anchor Wright Station, the redevelopment at Springboro’s central crossroads.

“We are thrilled that Playhouse South, now known as Springboro Community Theatre, chose Springboro as their new home. Our residents have enjoyed their summer productions up at North Park for the last 12 years,” Springboro Councilwoman Becky Iverson said in an email.

Iverson is part of an advisory committee formed since the group signed a memorandum of understanding last spring with the city committing to the move. The city and group are still negotiating details of the lease, according to City Manager Chris Pozzuto. The committee includes Ed Wade, long-time president of the Clearcreek Twp. trustees, and Beth Jamison, long-time director of the Springboro school theater program.

In addition to indoor and outdoor theater productions, the group plans to relaunch an improv comedy troupe as well as offer youth and educational programs, choir and instrumental groups and a lecture series.

The moves comes as the future of the group’s former home, also housing the Kettering Board of Education, is undetermined.

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The group formed in 1960 as the Kettering-Oakwood Theatre, “commonly known as the K-O Theatre,” according to Jim Brown, president of group’s board since 2005, as well as an actor, singer and director.

“There was general discussion about whether a name change would lose the following that our theater group had, but since we’ve communicated with our membership along the way, this became less of a concern,” Brown said in an email.

Brown said members were “largely in favor of this move. Any sentiment to the contrary was more of a bittersweet nature, just sad to see the end of an era under the old name, but acknowledging the bright future and opportunity of the Springboro community.”

Although Playhouse South was geographically non-specific, Brown said the group agreed to the name change at Pozzuto’s urging, while recognizing the dozen years of support of the group’s summer program at the city amphitheater.

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“The new name of Springboro Community Theatre establishes a hometown theatre for our residents and surrounding neighbors to enjoy for years to come. It is the perfect addition to our community that is already a great place to live, work and do business,” Iverson said.

The troupe has had numerous homes over the years, from the basement of the Bar Jan bowling alley in Kettering to the Dille barn to the Ireland barn to the Barnes building, still serving as junior high in 1967. The group then performed out of Indian Riffle Park, St. Leonard’s Retirement Community and the Washington Twp. Hall in downtown Centerville before taking the Playhouse South name in 1987.

From 1997 t0 2006, Baum Opera House in Miamisburg was home. Next the group merged with or bought out the Kettering Theatre Under the Stars and moved back into the Barnes building, which is now potentially facing demolition.

The newest move started taking shape about a dozen years ago when the group first performed outdoors in Springboro.

“This will be our 12th summer,” Brown said, recalling an outdoor past including time at Delco Park in Kettering and the Stubbs Amphiteatre in Centerville.

“We really found our home when the Springboro venue offered us an opportunity to do an outdoor production at their amphitheater,” said Brown, who moved to Springboro about three years ago. “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” was the first Springboro production.

The outdoor shows are free, with funding coming from concessions and donations. The indoor productions will be ticketed, Brown said.

“We’re looking for a long-term home for the theater that allows us to partner with a supportive community interested in the arts,” he said. “We decided we wanted our name to reflect the community we would be calling home, hopefully for ‘til the end of time.”

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