do have an economic impact, because we’re bringing people back downtown.”
Sooner Theatre began offering summer theater camps in 2003. The first year, about 30 students enrolled.
As the program grew, a second camp was added. One is geared for younger kids; another is for teens. Last summer, enrollment exceeded 300.
"We often have cast members go out into the community to perform,” marketing director Stephanie Royse said. "That often encourages people to come see our shows. When our students did a production of ‘Les Mis’ last summer, I wondered how we would go about selling a dark show put on by teenagers in the middle of July. But it sold incredibly well.”
In addition to being the permanent home of Norman’s primary theater company, Sooner Theatre continues to be a rental facility. During the past 30 years, the space has been used by the Cimarron Circuit Opera Company, Norman Community Playhouse and Stone Soup Theatre.
Scrapbooks chronicle musical performers who have appeared at the theater, including Spyro Gyra, Tori Amos and Jeff Daniels.
A fire caused considerable damage to Sooner Theatre in 1980. Restoration was completed in April 1982. The theater closed again for renovations in January 2002.
The concession stand, known as the Sweet Shop, was moved back to its original location on the southwest corner of the lobby prior to a grand reopening Sept. 21, 2002.
Today, Sooner Theatre presents a musical theater series featuring three or four fully staged productions, a "Main Event” concert series that spotlights touring musicians, and a special event series that includes a New Year’s Eve production, a murder mystery fundraiser and a joint production involving University of Oklahoma participants.
"Without people like Margaret Thurston, Pat Eek and countless volunteers, we wouldn’t be here today,” Baker said. "There were a lot of talented and tireless people who did a lot of work to make this theater the great little place it is.”