Virginia Samford Theatre
The year is 1927. The new Romanesque playhouse nestled in the charming Highland Avenue community is bustling with excited patrons who have just enjoyed George Bernard Shaw’s play Candida. They spill out into the courtyard adjoining the theatre to walk to their homes nearby or enjoy the lovely park adjacent to the building. Guests agree the new theatre is going to provide an outlet for expression — for community theatre — for decades. Years pass and the same building is no longer new. Equipment has deteriorated, furnishings have worn and systems have become outdated. Local actors, stagehands and seamstresses have come and gone. Some performers have even achieved celebrity, or indeed stardom, after getting their first taste of performing on stage at the Birmingham Little Theatre. Formerly named the Clark Memorial Theatre and home to the UAB Town and Gown players, the beloved playhouse came alive again in 2002 through a $3 million renovation led by a dedicated group of volunteers and contributors.
Now 80 years after hosting its first performance, the Little Theatre is still serving the arts community. The theatre is still charming, still Romanesque, still parkside and filled once again with enthusiastic participants and patrons. It was given a new name in honor of its generous donor, Virginia Samford Donovan, who provided funds to save this community treasure.
In August 2006, the Martha Moore Sykes Studio was added to the theatre to provide a black box space, rehearsal room and additional reception area. The multi-use facility currently hosts four theatre companies including Red Mountain Theatre Company, CenterStage, Magic City Actors Theatre and Norton Dill Productions, as well as numerous dance, music and private events. The theatre also produces events as Virginia Samford Theatre Productions.