History of the Frisco Community Theatre
The Frisco Community Theatre owes its start to Jack Scott. In 1984 Scott approached Doug Zambiasi, the Frisco Community Education director, with the idea of doing a show. Scott said the idea of forming a community theatre was not necessarily the original intention but was “to do a major musical just to see what would happen”.
Scott and Zambiasi called a planning meeting for all those interested in doing a show. They were the only participants in the first meeting. Undaunted, the two visited a community theatre in Burkett (where Scott was born) just to see how it was done in another community. They returned to Frisco and called another meeting in August 1984. They were encouraged by an attendance of 25 or 30 people.
Among the attendees at the second meeting was long-time Frisco resident Judith Reedy. She said Scott’s plan to form a theatre group, when at the time Frisco’s population was under 5000, was very innovative. Over the course of a few more meetings, Scott was named executive manager and a board of directors was formed that included Scott, Zambiasi, Judith Reedy, Edmund Burke and Catherine Fowler. The Frisco Community Theatre was adopted as the official name and the group decided the first show performed would be Meredith Wilson’s musical, The Music Man.
Reedy remembers, “We were so naive. We didn’t know that you had to have over 65 people in The Music Man, that you had to have this huge amount of costumes, that you had to have all this lighting and sound, and we thought we could do all this in the gym, alternating practice time with the color guard, basketball players and everybody else”. That first production opened April 12, 1985 in the Frisco High School gymnasium. Despite all the hurdles the first show was a rousing success!
After the first 3 productions the group began to realize it needed a permanent home and a relationship with the City of Frisco was formed. With the help of then mayor, John Clanton, FCT was allowed to use the old youth center on Camellia Lane. The building was built in the late 50’s as a center for youth activities and had not been used for some time. It was originally an open-air pavilion and the walls were added later.
The City spent about $30,000 to make the building habitable and FCT members donated their time and labor. The City donated the utilities and maintenance of the building. For years numerous productions were presented from dramas to comedies, musicals to Shakespeare to entertain the citizens. .
By 2007 none of the original organizers were still involved in the theatre and the leadership was assumed by Howard Korn who had performed in several FCT productions and had just moved to Frisco. Right at that time the theater building was closed after structural weaknesses were identified that rendered it potentially hazardous for public use. In 2009 the building was torn down. Without a theater FCT’s productions were performed in Plano and in spaces such as the City Council chambers and the Frisco Arts office on Main Street as we searched for a new permanent home in Frisco.
We were out of money and had no stage so Korn and his wife Joyce appeared in several performances of Love Letters to raise funds for future productions. Finally, in October, 2010 the Frisco Discovery Center was opened containing the Black Box Theater. Our opening show in the new venue was Forever Plaid which played to sellout audiences. Our next productions were Social Security, Our Town and Witness for the Prosecution which also played to sellout audiences. Frisco was clearly excited to have live theater back in the community and FCT was back in business.
Since then we have presented 17 more shows including The Fantasticks, The Sunshine Boys, Twelve Angry Jurors, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Don’t Dress for Dinner, Over the River and Through the Woods, A Broadway Christmas Carol, The Foreigner, Lend Me A Tenor, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Dial M for Murder and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. We have begun our 2016 season and will present four more productions including A Bad Year for Tomatoes, The Cemetery Club, Driving Miss Daisy and the musical, The Last Five Years.
We are fortunate to have added a number of talented and dedicated people to our group. Deborah Jaskolka, Bob Zak, Neale Whitmore, Katie Radke, Diane Rogers, Margie Bruszer, Roselle Gilman, Carol Payne, Scott Hazard and many others are working with the Korns in producing and promoting our shows.
Now, under the leadership of Bob Zak, we have started a new activity, Improv, which has been extremely well received. Nothing like this was available locally and we believed there would be a lot of interest in clean, family friendly improvisation performances. We have been delighted with the response as our our shows are selling out. We are now planning to have an Improv show monthly in addition to our four theatrical productions each year. The Frisco Community Theatre will continue to explore new ways to provide professional quality live entertainment for the citizens of Frisco and the surrounding area.