Who knew? When the organizational meeting of The Marion Players was held on March 3, 1950, who knew that more than sixty years later our group would still be going strong?
During the first years, our theatre group led a nomadic existence. Board and committee meetings were held in the Coffee Shop at Hotel Ocala. A second-floor loft in the block which housed the Marion Theatre was the location of our rehearsal hall and set-building shop. Ocala High School (now Osceola Middle School) graciously allowed us to perform on its stage. Incidentally, Sunday matinees, which are so popular today, were unheard of in the 1950s! Through the years, the community generously supported our organization by attending shows and volunteering.
In 1954, our group moved to the Osborne Theatre on Silver Springs Boulevard and, for the first time, we had all of the operations under one roof. That building was our home for thirty-four years. There we prospered and grew, again, supported by talented volunteers and a loyal audience.
In 1970, we changed our name to Ocala Civic Theatre. By the early 1980s, we had outgrown the Osborne Theatre and were looking for a new space. To build or buy, that was the question. The decision to build in the Appleton Cultural Center sparked another growth period for our organization.
After a successful capital campaign, we built and moved into our current theatre facility which seats 405. We have added several programs over the years and currently offer a Signature Series, Ovation Series, a year-round education program, and special events.
Ocala Civic Theatre is a recognized leader on the state level and ranked among the top thirty community theatres in the country. The 2017-2018 Season will be our 68th year of presenting live, professional-quality theatre to Ocala and the surrounding area. We can boast that we have presented over 400 productions for the community and, in recent years, we have performed to over 60,000 people each season.