The History of StageCenter
It began in 1964 with a group of people who spent much of the first year just reading plays together and performing some public readings. Vic Wiening, a professor of English at Texas A & M University, and William Andrew, a local lawyer and pathologist, were the founders. They were joined in their efforts by Louise Rotsch, Sol Kline, David & Valerie Woodcock,Wanda Daisa, Rebecca & Wendell Landmann, and Brookes & Annaliese Cofer.
StageCenter’s first production was The Hollow Crown by John Barton and was presented in the MSC Ballroom on campus. In the early years, plays were also performed in the old Woolworth building on Main Street in downtown Bryan, as well as in local churches and schools.
From 1968 to 1984, StageCenter occupied the second floor of the old Bryan Country Club on the Municipal Golf Course. Soon thereafter, StageCenter’s members were very pleased when they were offered the Palace Theater on Main Street.
A production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma was about to open when the roof of the theater fell in during the middle of the night and the group had to move. The organization relocated to a very small space in a strip center on Wellborn Rd and later on to a space in a strip center, this time on 29th Street. Much of the theatre’s equipment, props, and lights were destroyed when the Palace collapsed so the company began to replenish this equipment as they could afford to.
In 1993, StageCenter relocated itself into the old Brown-Allen Motor Company at 701 N. Main St, in downtown Bryan. This building required extensive renovation and improvements to give our theatre patrons a viable venue. StageCenter had many wonderful years and strong productions in this location, however the theatre did not own the building and when the rent increased beyond the theatre’s means another move was in order.
So in 2006, after the final performance of Sideman, StageCenter moved the theatre to its location in the old 3rd Floor Cantina above Mr. G’s Pizzeria, where they stayed for 12 years. Many audience members did not like the stairs or the elevator needed to get to the third floor, and some patronage dropped off. In addition, as rents increased and the quality of the building decreased, it was once again time for a move.
In September of 2018, with tremendous support from members and donors, StageCenter took up residency in its current location at 218 North Bryan Ave, two blocks north of our previous location.
The communities of Bryan and College Station, our theatre members, our board of directors, our patrons, and the Arts Council of the Brazos Valley have lent invaluable support to StageCenter’s goal of providing quality theatre to the citizens of the Brazos Valley. Through the years, StageCenter remains the only totally volunteer community theatre. Our doors remain open to all those who want to participate in the exciting and rewarding experience of live theatre.