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Avenue Theatre in West Plains Needs Repairs

Avenue Theatre (Credit: Abby Corman)

A theatre in West Plains that’s more than six decades old has been home to live performances for the last 20 years. And it’s in needs of repairs. The Friends of the Avenue Theatre will host a fundraiser tomorrow night (10/12) to raise money. 

When the Avenue Theatre in West Plains moved to its current location on Washington Ave. in 1950, it was showing films, not hosting live performances.  In fact, the film shown at the grand re-opening when the theatre moved from its old location across the street was Fancy Pants, starring Lucille Ball and Bob Hope.

That same film will be shown at the theatre again tomorrow night when the Friends of the Avenue Theatre hosts a fundraiser to generate funds for needed repairs.

Abby Corman, the theatre’s executive director, says after the venue closed in the early 1980s, it sat dormant for a while.  West Plains didn’t have a community stage then, so a group—Arts on the Avenue—was formed to work towards the goal of establishing one.  A local couple, Gerald and Jeanette Grisham, purchased the Avenue Theatre and donated it to Arts of the Avenue.  Around 1990, the Avenue Theatre began hosting live performances.  Corman says it was a community effort to convert the building from a movie theatre to a live performance venue, and that effort paid off.

"It was something that they, you know, wanted to keep going, and we have survived through lots of economic downturns and dry periods, but we've always managed to keep something on the stage and keep the doors open," she said.

But now, the theatre is in need of some repairs.  Renovations and repairs have been done off and on through the years when money was available.  According to Corman, they’ve been dealing with water problems lately.  When it rains, she says, water gets into the walls.

"We actually need to address that because it's affecting, you know, the interior walls to the point that they need to be reworked, and we have woodwork that needs to be replaced, and with all the moisture it really it really is hard on our sound and light systems as well as the air quality and just the general comfort level of our audience," she said.

The fundraiser, Fancy Pants, tomorrow night at 7, is being held to raise money to fix the water issues.  Dave Malone, president of Friends of the Avenue Theatre, says they’ve had amazing community support toward the fundraising effort so far, especially from the business community.  Around $4200 has been raised.

During the fundraiser tomorrow, attendees are asked to wear their fanciest pants.  Admission will be a dime as it was in 1950.  Donations will be accepted, and you’ll be able to take part in a “Fanciest Pants” contest.

Malone hopes they can raise enough money to repair the building because he says it plays an important role in the community.

"I was trying to think of a good analogy, and the first thing I thought of was a heartbeat.  I mean, I think it is an important facet, I mean I just don't think sometimes people realize how important live performance is, and without a place like the Avenue Theatre, that could go away," he said.

If you’d like more information about the Fancy Pants fundraiser tomorrow night at the Avenue Theatre, visit or view the Friends of the Avenue Theatre’s Facebook events page,