The year was 1961 and the Bellmoore-Parkwood Home and School Association decided to mount a fundraising theatre production. It was such a success that they produced another play the following year. Following these 2 successful productions, in 1963, a meeting was held by a small group of enthusiastic people and Binbrook Little Theatre was formed. The theatre started from the humble beginnings of a group of people who wanted to learn more about theatre production, to attempt a variety of plays and to present the plays more frequently than they had been.
Men and women from all walks of life such as teachers, nurses, salesmen, housewives, secretaries, doctors, civil servants, farmers, students and business owners have joined together providing quality entertainment, an exciting creative outlet and to many members, a second family.
Binbrook Little Theatre currently operates from September to May, presenting 3 or 4 shows per year: 2 adult productions, and a children’s and/or youth production. Plays have been very diverse. From classics such as Blithe Spirit and Arsenic and Old Lace, mysteries, farces, comedies, Canadian plays, and well-known family shows such as Cinderella and Robinson Crusoe, there has been something for everyone’s tastes.
In the early years audiences were primarily from Binbrook but by the 1980s word had spread beyond the Binbrook area to include Mount Hope, Hamilton, Stoney Creek and now Halton, Haldimand, Niagara and Lincoln areas.
The theatre has always been and continues to be a volunteer-driven, not-for–profit community theatre. Its commitment to volunteering and support of fellow volunteers has been evident in many ways. In 1982, the theatre nominated one of its members, Freda Barnes, for an Outstanding Achievement Award for Volunteerism through the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation. Mrs. Barnes was one of only 2 award recipients that year, thanks to her long-standing support of the theatre and her commitment to its future success. Five of the theatre’s founding members, still active at that time, were also given Volunteer Service Awards. The Binbrook Little Theatre honoured these same 6 individuals the following year at its 20th Anniversary Celebration by giving them Lifetime Memberships in the theatre.
Over the years the theatre has celebrated many successes. In 1975, the Binbrook Little Theatre production of ‘Spring and Port Wine” was selected by the Western Ontario Drama League to compete in their annual competition. Binbrook actor George Barnes was named Best Actor that year and the theatre won a special award for Best Teamwork. What an honour in their first competition.
Through the years the theatre, its actors and even its crew, have been nominated and won various awards through the Western Ontario Drama League. In 2002, Rita Taylor won as Best Actress in the annual competition and the Set Décor and Design crew were nominated for the fall production of Blithe Spirit. In the following year’s competition, John Koetsier won Best Supporting Actor and once again the Decor/Design crew were nominated for The Affections of May. We continue to win awards, not only for our acting, but also for our impressive set design.
In November 2003 the theatre held its 40th anniversary gala celebration. Over 100 guests were present, ranging from some of the founders of the theatre, some of the active members over the years, the current board of directors and including many of the youth volunteers.
The future of the Binbrook Little Theatre looks solid. With growing membership and involvement, increasing audiences, critical praise and awards, great things will continue to take place upstairs in the Memorial Hall.
From the beginning the theatre’s mandate has been “To foster and promote the understanding and enjoyment of the dramatic arts in the community.” The Binbrook Little Theatre has been doing just that for over 50 years and its members look forward to the many challenges and successes as we approach our 60th Anniversary.