That’s right folks, we’ve been around long enough now to have a history! It all started back in 1977 when a young 24-year-old U of A student named Tony Terry Jr. grabbed a few great friends from the drama department and headed to Alaska! Skagway, Alaska to be exact. They founded the “Mighty Moose Melodrama Theatre” and the one and only production was called “Gold Fever! or Danger at Bonanza Creek!” This show was written by Howard Allen, designed and painted by Tom Benson, and produced by Tony Terry. After a long, cold, BUT FUN summer, the troupe said “The heck with this! Let’s head back to the desert!” Shortly after their return to Tucson and with the help of Tony’s brother Tom, they opened The Gaslight Theatre in an old red barn at Trail Dust Town on Tanque Verde Road.
In spite of a slow beginning, we began to outgrow the old barn (100 seats, 106 if we sat people on the bar!). So, we packed up once again and moved down the road to our third location at the corner of Sabino Canyon and Tanque Verde Road. Here, with the help of many friends in 1980, we designed and built a new theatre with 223 seats. What a change!
After ten great years at that location we were fortunate enough to move, and this time actually purchase our new home: the old Jerry Lewis Theatre at the corner of Broadway and Kolb. Once again, doing most of the work ourselves, we renovated the theatre and also built “Little Anthony’s Diner” from the ground up.
Many of our artistic staff have been with us since the early years. Tom Benson, our resident scenic designer and a founding partner, began with us in Skagway. The late Mr. Danny Griffith, “The King of the Melodrama Pianists,” joined us during our second show “The Sally Cathleen Claim or All That Glitters Is Not Gold!” in 1978. David Darland, the youngest stage technician in our history, started in 1977. Several of your favorite cast regulars have also been with us since the early years: Peter Van Slyke joined us in 1978 for our second season, Joe Cooper and Armen Dirtadian joined us in 1983.
Through the years we have been fortunate to have the talents of Tim Gilbert- “The Guy With The Eyes,” Joe Cooper, Armen Diratdian, Glenda Young, Donna Davis, David Fanning, and many others. Now in addition to many of our old favorites (don’t tell them we called them old!), we have a whole new crop of talented young performers quickly becoming audience favorites: Mike Yarema, Todd Thompson, Charlie Hall, Tarreyn Van Slyke, and Jake Chapman just to name a few. We are so grateful to our talented and dedicated actors, directors, musicians & technicians who continue to make The Gaslight what it is today. As we enter our 35th year of entertaining Tucson families, we are still performing Gaslight Classics like “The Phantom of the Opera,” and “The Lone Stranger,” but we’re also introducing brand new comedies such as 2010’s “Space Wars,” 2011’s “Wizard of the Rings,” 2012’s “Back to the Past,” and our upcoming show “Spider Guy” to make memories for a whole new generation. We take pride in crafting entertainment for the young, old, and everyone in between.
And last but not least, how could we forget our fabulous audiences? Without you and your continuous support, we just wouldn’t be the Gaslight Theatre we are today. We humbly dedicate every show to you.
As they say folks…the rest is history!