Columbia Theatre and Changing Times

[HAMMOND, La] – Life is a stage and the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts is a prime example of how life changes with the times.
Executive Director of Alumni Relations for Southeastern Louisiana University Michelle Biggs recalled her time as Associate Director of the Columbia Theatre and explained a brief history of the Columbia Theatre.
“The Columbia was first built in 1928 as a venue for traveling vaudeville acts and motion pictures,” said Biggs. “It closed down in the 1970s, changed ownership several times, but was reopened in 2002 after an extensive renovation and after being donated to the university.”
The Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts has a constant changing aesthetic, which makes it a place that will be around for years to come, keeping up with the times.
Charles “Roy” Blackwood, Executive Director of the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts, explained the progression the theatre has made from 1999 until present day.
“The number and type programming has increased from approximately 12 events per season to 65,” Blackwood said. “This increased activity has served to broaden the scope and the impact of the performing arts in the North Shore region.”
According to an article written in The Lion’s Roar Columbia Theatre Players’ first vice president Dr. Larry Gray said, “This was a complete renovation. I saw it before. I’ve been on stage before, and I’ve been on stage afterwards, and all of it, the green room, the rehearsal space, the dressing rooms, the bathrooms, everything was completely redone and it’s fabulous. It’s really, really nice now. Now the university uses it as a presenting organization.”
Blackwood explained why he feels the building appeals to people now.
“The building is extremely flexible in accommodating different types of activities from classical music to contemporary and from ballet to comedy,” said Blackwood. “The auxiliary spaces in Columbia sees everything from small conferences and wedding receptions to political debates. So you can see that not only is there an appeal but broad usage as well. It is where the people of this region go when they want a special or elegant event.”
Along with how it appeals to people, the community also benefits from the Columbia Theatre.
“The Columbia is a huge benefit to the university and to the Hammond Community,” said Biggs. “They are able to present world- renowned cultural performances of all kinds – everything from classical to popular music, dance and theatrical productions. They also offer a superb venue for the University student ensembles such as the Wind Symphony and the Opera and Musical Theatre Workshop.”

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