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Matchbox Children's Theatre History

The History of MCT

The debut of Matchbox Children’s Theatre and Puppet Theatre was in the autumn of 1975 under the wing of the Austin Park and Recreation Department. It was a collaboration of Bill Libby and Janet Anderson, both had theatre backgrounds and were employees of Park & Rec. Our first production, Sleeping Beauty or the Famous Rose Taboo, performed in the basement auditorium of Queen of Angels Church.

Despite Positive audience response to Sleeping Beauty, budget constraints forced Park & Rec. to cut the children’s theatre program. Happily, there was a strong core of enthusiastic people who wanted to see quality children’s theatre continue in Austin. Soon after, MCT was established as an independent, non-profit organization and that spring produced Hansel and Gretel. In 1983 we renewed our relationship, on a limited basis, with Park and Rec. and began producing the Halloween Warm-Up at the J.C. Hormel Nature Center.

As plans began for our second season, a theatre friend, Wally Nordin, proposed an arrangement that would enable us to move to the Austin Community College Theatre (Now Riverland Community College/Frank W. Bridges Theatre). Frank W. Bridges, the theatre director at ACC at that time, agreed and the Riverland Community College/Frank W. Bridges Theatre was our home until December of 1998 when we performed our last production there, Puss in Boots. In February of 1999 we moved to our new permanent home, the historic Paramount Theatre. Our first production at the Paramount Theatre was Snow White & Rose Red. As MCT evolved we phased out puppet theatre and concentrated our full energies on live theatre.

The enthusiastic response from “children of all ages” makes us proud to play a strong role in the Austin arts community. We eagerly anticipate another score of years ahead as we strive to stimulate imagination through the magic of live theatre!

A Eulogy for Bill Libby
His Gifts to Austin - A Friend to Matchbox

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