The Story of
Cherokee Civic Theatre

Once upon a time (1972), Zula Hol­comb Pear­son, head of the Lon Mor­ris Col­lege Drama De­part­ment for 40 years, re­tired to her ho­met­own of Rusk, Texas. At the re­quest of the Rusk Cham­ber of Com­merce Tour­ism Com­mit­tee, Mrs. Pear­son wrote and dir­ec­ted a loc­al din­ner theatre pro­duc­tion that was presen­ted in con­junc­tion with the In­di­an Sum­mer Arts and Crafts Fair.

The suc­cess of this pro­duc­tion in­spired a group of Rusk cit­izens to hold an open meet­ing in March 1973 to con­sider form­ing a com­munity theatre. The group named it­self "Cher­o­kee Civic Theatre" to rep­res­ent all of Cher­o­kee County. The first pro­duc­tion of the new theatre group was "Bare­foot in the Park"', presen­ted in Ju­ly.

With no per­man­ent home, Cher­o­kee Civic Theatre pro­duc­tions dur­ing the next two years were held in the Rusk Ju­ni­or High School Aud­it­or­i­um, the Foot­bridge Park, the Cher­o­kee County Dis­trict Court Room, the New South­ern Mo­tor Hotel din­ing room, the First United Meth­od­ist Church Fel­low­ship Hall and the Rusk State Rail­road Park Theatre. Sit­ting va­cant in Rusk was the Cher­o­kee movie theatre build­ing, built in 1946 and formerly a vi­brant "hot spot" for loc­al cit­izens. With the as­sist­ance of James I. Per­kins and oth­er Rusk cit­izens, ar­range­ments were made with the own­er of the build­ing, Gulf States Theatre, Inc. to donate the build­ing to the Vo­lun­teer Coun­cil of Rusk State Hos­pit­al, Inc. in 1974.

In Janu­ary 1975, the Vo­lun­teer Coun­cil agreed to sell the build­ing to Rusk Civic Ser­vices, Inc., the fore­run­ner of the Cher­o­kee Civic Theatre or­gan­iz­a­tion, for $20,000. Ar­range­ments were made for a $5,000 down pay­ment, and pay­ments of $1,000 for 15 years, with no in­terest on the loan. After the ori­gin­al ar­range­ments were made to take over the loan and ba­sic renov­a­tions were made, the Cher­o­kee Civic Theatre group used the his­tor­ic build­ing to present their plays start­ing in 1975 with "Cac­tus Flower".

In 1982, Cher­o­kee Civic Theatre, Inc. was des­ig­nated as a non-profit or­gan­iz­a­tion. On Novem­ber 27 1989, the build­ing pur­chase loan was joy­fully paid. Now that the build­ing was truly CCT’s, the theat­er un­der­went a dra­mat­ic re­fur­bish­ing in 1991. The in­teri­or was dec­or­ated and a grand cur­tain was in­stalled on stage. The taste­fully dec­or­ated 260–seat theatre has be­come known as a "Jew­el in East Texas".

In 2004, the re­fur­bish­ment loan was paid off and a cam­paign of ma­jor phys­ic­al im­prove­ments to the build­ing res­ult­ing in the re­place­ment of the stage light and sound sys­tems. The im­prove­ments cam­paign con­tin­ues with the Theat­er An­nex (com­bin­a­tion dress­ing room, make-up room, cos­tume⁄set shop, green room & re­strooms) as its next tar­get. Pro­ceeds from shows, sea­son tick­et mem­ber­ships and dona­tions from well-wish­ers help keep our "jew­el pol­ished" and grow­ing.

We’re glad you’ve vis­ited our web–site, and hope you’ll join us to ex­per­i­ence the thrill of live theat­er at the Cher­o­kee Civic Theatre!

Narnia the Musical Cheaper by the Dozen Dearly Departed