That’s right, folks- the brand-new Tent Theatre permanent structure is underway!
Thursday, April 8th was an eventful day for all Tent Theatre members and patrons as it marked the beginning of Tent Theatre’s next exciting chapter! It was only 58 years ago that Robert Gilmore and Irene Coger worked together to create a new summer performance venue that would be constructed in the form of a round, 55-foot-across tent. It was the very first Tent Theatre structure and used in the premiere season that would lead to the performative summers every year that we all know and love.
Look at just how far we’ve come!
The permanent structure, now known as the John Goodman Amphitheatre, to be completed in April 2022, will be located on the same concrete pad on the north side of Craig Hall that the tent is typically erected and will include a full-size stage, proper backstage space, and expanded audience seating. Additionally, it will be surrounded by the newly-constructed Judith Enyeart Reynolds Art Park. It will be a welcoming and invigorating space for all patrons attending Tent Theatre and students in Missouri State’s University Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters.
All of the construction and absolutely-beautiful designs are being done by the incredible Patterhn-Ives LLC. You can view more photos of the design at their website by clicking the link HERE.
Here is an excerpt from the press-release covering this historic event:SPRINGFIELD – When the curtain rises on the 2022 season of Missouri State University’s Tent Theatre, the audience will have an even greater reason to cheer: They’ll be seated in the new John Goodman Amphitheatre in the new Judith Enyeart Reynolds Arts Park! “This new arts park and permanent amphitheatre are much welcome additions to our historic Tent Theatre,” Missouri State President Clif Smart said. “Our campus and larger community will have a vibrant and comfortable space to enjoy not only Tent Theatre and other productions, but also many special events for years to come.” Setting the Stage This open-air facility will include a permanent stage and tiers for 350 removable seats. “Mr. Tent Theatre and friends are smiling,” Dr. Shawn Wahl, dean of the Judith Enyeart Reynolds College of Arts and Letters, said. “This infrastructure, that started as B. Blackwood’s dream, will evolve into a real structural centerpiece designed to serve everyone. This structure and surrounding arts park will help support student learning across all academic programs.” Names in Lights These projects were both named for significant contributions to the college through the Missouri State University Foundation’s Onward Upward campaign. Goodman, who serves as the campaign chair, is an alumnus who graced the Tent Theatre stage and remembers it fondly- “The nights in Springfield, in the summer doing Tent Theatre, for me are unmatched anywhere else on Earth,” Goodman wrote in his campaign letter. Fundraising for the project continues, noted Brent Dunn, executive director of the Missouri State Foundation. A $500 gift can name an individual seat in the amphitheatre. Other naming opportunities exist for the Grand Entrance, stage house, overhead fans and more.”
Tickets for this summer’s season- including Beehive, 39 Steps, and a bonus virtual re-release of The Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of The Secret Garden– can purchased through the Tent Theatre Home Page starting May 1st.
Although this summer’s season will be housed inside Coger Theatre during construction to commemorate Tent founder Irene Coger, it is sure to be a thrilling transition into the new structure for the summer 2022 season. We truly cannot wait to welcome you all back for this special next chapter of Tent Theatre’s legacy.