STOCKTON — The Stockton Civic Theatre continues to be an important part of San Joaquin County.
Just ask Deanna Mulvihill, who grew up around the regional showplace for the performing arts.
“It can provide some wonderful opportunities for those interested in theater,” she said on Thursday.
Deanna Mulvihill, who was active in the community theater up until the early 1990s – she’s a graduate of East Union High – served as the narrator on the first-ever performance of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’
She’s also worked as an art department coordinator in television and motion pictures.
Her mother is an icon at SCT.
Dorothy Mulvihill spent 30 years at Manteca High, expanding the performing arts program there and making possible the speech arts building named in her honor. She’s also recognized for her acting and costuming at SCT.
Mulvihill isn’t too active in the theater these days but, according to her daughter, she does get occasional calls from SCT seeking advice on costume design.
The history of SCT dates back to the Gold Rush days of the 1850s. The rough and tumble sailors and miners frequented the Stockton Theatre for entertainment.
By 1911, the Yosemite Theatre was the place to be as the great Sarah Bernhardt performed “La Dam Aux Camelias.”
The Masonic Music Hall then opened a large auditorium on its top floor in 1923 for live theater.
In the fall of 1950, librarian Frank Jones and banker Clyde Nielsen led a group of theater enthusiasts in an enterprise they called the Stockton Civic Theatre. The first-ever performance was Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town’ held at the Madison School Auditorium.
About two years later, SCT found a home, converting the old Zion Lutheran Church at North Madison Street and Willow Street into a 197-seat theater.
Plans to move out of this aging facility were in the works by 1973 as John Falls, president of the board – SCT was incorporated as a non-profit in 1954 – appointed Donald Lamond as chief planner for a new home.
A year later, a local developer offered SCT free land and construction at cost in the area known as Venetian Bridges.
Thanks in part to fundraising, SCT kicked off the 1980 season to a sparkling new 300-seat facility at Rosemarie Lane, opening with the 166th main stage production ‘Chapter Two’ under the direction of Nick Elliott.
Founder Clyde Nielsen gave SCT a much-needed financial boost in 1996 with his generous donation to retire the mortgage.
Ticket revenues make up some of the cost for what’s seen on stage. SCT relies on volunteers who provide their time and talent – included are actors, set builders, ushers, and the stage crew – along with the support of generous donors.
The much-needed donations help foot the bill for educational and cultural programs not to mention the operating expenses, from insurance and building maintenance to office supplies and postage.
Dorothy Mulvihill had headed the theater’s youth program after being retained by Greg Morales - another former Manteca resident - a few years ago.
Morales was SCT’s first-ever producing director followed by Paul Bengston.
Allison Lafferty is the current president while Jim Coleman serves as the artistic director.
SCT recently wrapped up ‘Sweeney Todd.’
Beginning Thursday, the Summer Youth Program will perform Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ under the direction of Dominee Muller Kimball beginning at 7 p.m.
The theater is still live and kicking.
— VINCE REMBULAT
209 staff reporter