The Barn Theatre has been bringing performing arts to the Treasure Coast for half a century. Now in its fifty-first season, Martin County’s oldest nonprofit community theater is honoring that milestone anniversary by hosting a special event March 5 at the Elliott Museum ($75/ticket). Dubbed “Song & Starlight,” the celebration will feature live performances and plenty of entertainment, including ethereal stilt walkers from Florida Aerial Dance & Circus Arts and seasoned Barn Theatre performers who will take guests on a musical journey of some of the theater’s most beloved musicals of the past 50 years.
“We love The Barn Theatre,” says board member (and past president) Chris Mazella. “For all of us involved, it is our passion. There is no greater joy than bringing the arts to our community.”
A “wall of remembrance” will also be erected to honor the theater’s history as well as key players such as master carpenter Gus McCall, the man behind the theater’s sets. Also on display will be various costumes designed by Marcia Molinari, along with styles from former wardrobe mistress, the late Mary Lee Bell.
The Barn Theatre has a rich history that began in 1969 when a group known as the Martin County Players founded an adult education drama class at what was then called the Instructional Center of Stuart. Unfortunately, the school board often didn’t allow the students to perform a show if they deemed the theme “too sensitive” (which led the group to change their name to The Renegade Players in protest). They found refuge at St. Joseph’s College for a bit and also continued at the Instructional Center, but soon grew tired of the lack of space and censorship.
In 1969, they purchased an acre of land from the Bussert Rose Farm and converted it into The Barn Theatre that stands today. The first season opened in 1970 with a performance of I Do!, I Do!, and today, the theater hosts around six musicals and plays a year, beginning with a season opener in July and closing out the season in May. While The Barn had to close during the pandemic in 2020, volunteers spent that time fixing up the facilities, and it reopened last fall. Remaining shows for the fifty-first season include this month’s The Bare Truth (March 10-27) and Mamma Mia! (March 12-May 29).