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Big Shows, Small Stage at The Melbourne Civic Theatre

By Courtney Clark

Brevard County's Melbourne Civic Theatre has a history that dates back several decades. As the County's oldest community theatre, MCT has been dedicated to producing professional-quality shows since its inception. MCT is located in the historic downtown area and always shows big plays in a small arena.

MCT began as the Indian River Players in 1951, and is the oldest arts organization in the county. The first play debuted in 1952: Big Hearted Herbert. Since then, the theatre has been a vital part of Melbourne's history. A partially-burned Navy Mess Hall was renovated into what became the Indian River Players' home for over two decades, and the organization became a Florida Not for Profit in 1965.

According to the website, the Theatre has been involved in renovating multiple historical buildings over the decades, including the Henegar Center and the former Meadowland Library. Since 2006, the Theatre has been downtown at the La Galerie arcade. Through each move the Theatre has become increasingly ingrained in Melbourne history.

Although it has been around for decades, MCT remains a small venue. With only ninety-three seats, the theatre does not have much audience space. However, to make up for this, the Theatre runs productions for six weekends rather than the three to four weekend span that is normal in other theatres. Viewers are therefore shown productions with highly dedicated actors who are willing to commit this much time to a performance. As Front of House Manager Kathy Kett says, this also gives the patrons more opportunities to view the shows.

Kett indicates that the goal of MCT is to "make Brevard [County] a premier destination with a topnotch artistic hub." To this end, the Theatre presents professional-quality shows in a variety of genres. Previous popular productions have included The Full Monty, The Elephant Man, and Picnic. Brevard Culture reviewed Picnic, calling it a "vivid, artful recreation of 1952 rural Kansas." The reviewer applauds the production as "evocative," bringing the play and the era to "eloquent life." Beautiful results such as this are made possible by the community MCT strives to represent: donors, volunteers, patrons, and the actors.

The Theatre website acknowledges that, like any volunteer organization, MCT has had its ups and downs. However, the Theatre remains dedicated to and passionate for theatre excellence. Each show, from each actor's rehearsal to each donor's contribution, is presented for Melbourne. After several decades, the Theatre continues to "enrich the quality of lives in Brevard County."

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