Little is big as PALT continues into the New Year

Published 2:47 pm Friday, December 30, 2016

The Port Arthur Little Theatre has had a 2016 packed with drama, comedy, music and a stray Christmas tree or two. As the longtime local theater looks ahead to the New Year, PALT Board of Directors President Debbie Pletcher was kind enough to answer some questions about the theater’s ins and outs.

“We produced the same number of shows per season — five for our membership, one Kid’s Christmas Show and one play produced by our Junior Board,” Pletcher said of the theater’s annual output.

“We also do one show geared for the younger (adult) crowd. Last season was Rocky Horror; this season will be Evil Dead.”

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When asked about average attendance for the year, Pletcher was quick to point out that the season was not over yet.

“We still have three shows to produce this season. I would say we are on pace to do about the same this season as in seasons past,” she said.

In speaking about PALT membership rates, Pletcher said, “Memberships also have been quite steady for the past three to four years. It varies about three to five percent in each direction from season to season.”

As with many community organizations, promotion plays an important part in getting the word out about featured works.

“We promote our theater by using emails, Facebook and other social media. We also have a web page where patrons can see the shows that are performing and can acquire tickets using a credit card,” Pletcher said.

“We also produce brochures and at times advertise in various entertainment magazines. We are doing a little more on Facebook this season.”

Input from both patrons and board directors go into selecting plays for production.

“We perform surveys on what our patrons would like to see. We also ask directors for shows that they would like to see produced,” Pletcher said.

“Our Play Selection Committee meets and looks at each play in terms of casting requirements and the cost of producing the play, and then selects what we think are the best ones.”

Pletcher said, “We usually pick a drama, musical, comedy and then two others which can be thrillers and other types. We do a random feedback as to the style of plays that they would like to see along with our survey.”

As for 2017, planning already seemed to be under way for PALT.

“We are in the early stages of picking the shows for next season. Requests have been put out to directors for their selections,” Pletcher said. “(We) will select shows around the middle of March.”

In addition, Pletcher outlined a few goals for the coming season.

“Our specific goals each season is to outperform the attendance average for the type of shows we produce,” Pletcher said. “For example, we compare comedy attendees to past comedy attendees for the past five years.

“Another goal is to bring in at least one new play director who has not directed at PALT in the last three years.”

Pletcher explained, “From a financial point of view, our goal is for all shows to come under budget and to make a profit. Overall, our financial target is to increase our reserves by 10 percent each season.”