Museum Of Repertoire Americana – Theater Museum-Mount (Mt.) Pleasant, Iowa

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Description – In a building at the north end of the campground section of the Midwest Old Threshers complex in Mount (Mt.) Pleasant, Iowa, is located the Museum of Repertoire Americana(Theatre Museum). Visitors will find a unique collection of memorabilia from various venues of American popular entertainment—opera houses, tent theaters, showboats, minstrels, and Chautauqua. Included in this collection are scenery, costumes, photographs, posters, handbills, musical instruments, scripts, playbills, music, letters, and programs.

During the 1910s and 1920s over 400 repertoire companies toured in big cities and small towns all over the United States; this museum has information on a number of these companies and the repertoire performers. Much of that information has been entered into a data-base program for all types of researchers to peruse.

Summer theatre performances similar to those presented in the 1920s usually occur two weekends in July.

Admission – $3.00 for adults and youth over 15 ; free for children under 15 (if combining this tour with a tour of the Heritage Museum at Midwest Old Threshers, the cost is $5.00) (museum admission is free when one has paid the gate admission fee during the Reunion days)

Directions – west of the junction of U. S. Highways 218 and 34, south on Walnut Street, turn west on Threshers Road, turn south at first gate past cemetery

Hours – 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, (day after Labor Day weekend – day before Memorial Day weekend); 10:00 a.m. – noon, 12:30 p.m.—4:30 p.m., Tuesday – Sunday, Memorial Day weekend – Labor Day Weekend; open other times by appointment

Credit Cards – American Express, Visa, Mastercard, and Discover (only when purchasing summer theatre tickets prior to the day of performance)

Phone – (319) 385-9432 (Theatre Museum) or (319) 385-8937 (Midwest Old Threshers)

Comments

  1. Ann Richardson says:

    I was married onstage after Dollie of the Follies on the Sun Players in Newton Iowa in 1964 to Laurence P. Willey. We were leading lady and man.
    In 1993 my second husband and I formed Richardson/Drosselle Productions and worked with the Missouri and Iowa film commissions to produce a film based on Toby. We worked with Jimmy and Grace Davis. The film never happened and we divorced shortly afterward. I still have the script and would like to hear from anyone interested in reviving this project.

  2. Steve Richardson says:

    (no relation to Ann !)
    In May 1883 a “scenic artist, George Burt” produced the following for our new G. A. R. Hall in Cawker City, Kansas:

    The new scenery on the stage of the
    Grand Army Hall, painted by George Burt,
    adds to the effectiveness of the acting and
    gives an idea of reality to the representat-
    ions which it would not otherwise have.
    When finished, the stage will be supplied
    with six scenes, eight side wings, a hand-
    some drop curtain and proscenium.

    I have found a George Burt who was the stage manager for the opera house in Atchison, but do not know if he is the same person or related (or not). If anyone has any information about Mr. Burt, you may email me at cawkercitymuseum@yahoo.com

    In 1906, the hall was doubled in size and the old scenes were described:

    May 31, 1906
    Cawker City Ledger
    - We wish the opera house manage-
    ment would dress up the play house a
    little. We are getting awfully tired
    looking through the holes in that old
    drop curtain and we don’t believe
    Venice looks a bit like that picture
    anyway; then that battle scene with
    the soldiers at a distance larger than
    those nearer, and that fellow behind
    the tree, he ought to be moved. And
    then that other curtain with the
    advertisements on, take it down and
    put up white cloth if you can’t do
    better. These curtains were all right
    once, but this age calls for a change,
    then too a little paint on the ceiling
    would not spoil it if the paint was
    right, neither would the theater goers
    get angry if some of those old
    wounded and crippled chairs were
    gently removed and up-to-date opera
    chairs put in their places. There are
    several things that might be done and
    are much needed about this splendid
    opera house, and a good system of
    lighting is one of them.

    These were in fact replaced by the Cox company:

    November 14, 1907
    Cawker City Ledger
    - Manager Higley has ordered a new
    drop curtain for the opera house
    stage. The Cox Scenic Co. will do
    the work. The curtain will be 14×22
    feet. There will be a two foot fancy
    border at top and bottom, three feet
    of drapery on the sides, and twelve
    business cards surrounding a scene
    6×10 in the center. At different times
    we have told of the improvements he
    is making and you will be surprised
    when he finishes.

    Having visited the Theater Museum, I understand that the artistry of the Cox Company is highly regarded today. Too bad our hall burned down in 1924 !

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