Wetumpka Depot History
For 43 years, Wetumpka Depot Players have thrilled audiences on stage, with original, world premieres and classic dramas, comedies and musicals.
It all started at the historic town train depot, in the spring of 1980, when a group of Wetumpka residents envisioned turning the deteriorating landmark into the home of a new community theatre. As if pulled from a Broadway script, the newly formed troupe debuted with Nine Girls, a play designed to entertain – and raise funds to renovate the building.
Thus, the Wetumpka Depot Players were born. Those early years could be difficult – especially for the cast, which layered costumes during winter performances to fight off the bitter cold. In summers, patrons wore shorts to combat the heat. Yet the Depot Players survived and thrived, and the community rallied around the group, thanks to tried- and-true plays such as Count Dracula, Father of the Bride and Smoke on the Mountain.
Growing in popularity with each passing season, the Players began looking for a bigger, better space in the mid- ‘90s. Performing as vagabonds in a variety of spaces before finding a permanent home, they turned the Elmore County Courthouse into the setting for Inherit the Wind and Witness for the Prosecution. Performances of Nunsense, Oklahoma and The Music Man were staged at the Wetumpka Performing Arts Center.
Then the Pig came to the rescue. In December 1999, the Depot incorporated as a nonprofit to purchase and renovate an abandoned grocery store on South Main, creating a black- box theatre with a capacity of 160. For nearly a quarter of a century, the Wetumpka Depot Players have remained committed to pro-
viding the best performances possible- from cutting-edge original fare to classic, thought-provoking and family productions – with the goal
of entertainment remaining the driving force.
While some of our Depot volunteers have theatre degrees and professional experience, most are getting their first taste of the thrill of trodding the boards on the stage of a converted grocery store. No matter their past experience they’ve all been bitten by the theatre bug, ensuring that the Depot’s commitment and professional attitude continues to transform and impact the community positively for generations to come.
Today, our outreach includes programs for all ages. The Encore Players were founded in 2013 as an outreach to our "young at heart" artists. When school’s out, theatre is in and children receive training in the Depot summer programs. In 2019 we launched Penguin Project, our special needs theatre outreach. In December, more than 3,000 area school children experienced live theatre during our production of Charlotte's Web. And, during our 43-year history many of our Depot alums have gone on to receive theatre scholarships and perform at the university level and beyond.
Our outreach extends well past 300 South Main Street as our group serves as ambassadors for Wetumpka across the state and on regional and national stages. Past casts have returned from state, regional and national competition with numerous awards, including best performances in 2009, ’10, ’13, ’14, ’16, ’18 and ’22 – as well as honors for technical de-sign and direction. The casts of Second Samuel (2011) and The Diviners (2019) represented the Depot in national competition. This spring, the cast of A Storm Came Up will represent the state at Southeastern Theatre Conference in Lexington, Kentucky – the next step for an original piece that premiered on the Depot stage in February 2022.
Yet there’s work to be done. Our beloved building needs maintenance and renovations for our ever-expanding pro- grams. We have no doubt that if we work hard to maintain the quality of shows our audiences have come to love and appreciate, our future needs will be met. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to support the Depot Players. We thank you for being a part of our history and helping to make us the best little community theatre around!
Here's to the first 43 seasons. We can’t wait to see what the next 43 have in store.
HELP US BRING
THE JOY OF AWARD-WINNING THEATRE TO OUR
Your tax-deductible donation helps your community theatre pay royalties and expenses associated with our productions, provide services to people of all ages in our community and allow for scholarships to deserving children for our school productions and camps. Your support is appreciated more than you know! THANK YOU!!!!!