The Columbia Theatre is a part of Hammond, Louisiana’s history and has continued to be a gathering place for the community and Southeastern Louisiana University students to experience exciting live entertainment throughout the years.
Columbia Theatre originally opened its doors in 1928 and underwent renovation to expand the facility in the 1990s and was then reopened in 2002. The theatre offers a large auditorium space for audiences to watch performances like plays, live music, comedy and more.
Features of the Columbia Theatre
James Winter is an associate professor of theatre at Southeastern and became the artistic director of Columbia Theatre in June 2019. Winter explained that the theatre has the large auditorium, but it also offers a variety of other rooms and areas for performances, events and community use.
There is a conference room that can be used for alternative purposes like a smaller performance space. The balcony lounge includes a bar and seating areas for smaller functions, and there are multiple dressing rooms and a dance studio. Winter noted that the lobby of the theatre itself is a space that can be used for various events. The general public has the opportunity to book out these different spaces.
“The historic significance, the beauty of it, the generations that have been in and out of this building, the ghosts, just the magic that it is to think that there has been all this amazing talent on the stage, walking through the halls, and getting ready in the dressing rooms,” Angelle Reeves, assistant director of business and marketing at Columbia Theatre, said.
Reeves explained that the theatre is a place for people to experience a different type of entertainment. “It’s something different than bringing your kid to a movie theater and making them understand that it is a different view of watching someone in action live where there is not a second chance,” she said.
Student Involvement at the Columbia Theatre
With the theatre being owned by Southeastern, student involvement is important to the theatre. “I want to enhance the relationship that this facility has with the campus… that is why I created the student advisory board. I want students to be a part of what is happening here and I want to bring programming in that students want to see,” Winter said.
The student advisory board began at the beginning of the Fall 2019 semester. It is a board of Southeastern students from different departments, majors and organizations that are working alongside the efforts of the Columbia Theatre to brainstorm ideas for performances, uses of the different facilities and to bring awareness to fellow students and faculty about what is happening at the theatre.
“[Students] are my first point of connection,” Winter said. Winter explained that as students on campus show their excitement and make people aware about the different performances and events, they can get the word out more because of interactions with one another and having a say on their campus and what is talked about.
Reeves explained that word of mouth and one-on-one interactions are helpful ways for people to find out what is happening at the theatre, and it is important to find out what people are wanting to see. “Finding the right fit when we get to talk to people about what they would be interested in and making sure they are aware that there is something in the season for everybody,” Reeves said.
The Columbia Theatre has several events coming up during the Fall semester for every age group. Jack and the Beanstalk will be performing on Oct. 19 by the Missoula Children’s Theatre, An Evening with Clarence Gilyard Jr. will be on Oct. 23, the United States Army Field Band from Washington D.C. will be performing on Oct. 27, Durand Jones and the Indications will be performing on Nov. 1 and the One-Man Star Wars Trilogy will be on Nov. 7.
Reeves and Winter highlighted two performances including One-Man Star Wars Trilogy and An Evening with Clarence Gilyard Jr. “There shouldn’t be a person around here that should miss Star Wars. I feel like that is going to be such a fun night,” Reeves said. Winter explained that an international performer will be presenting an unforgettable experience for everyone who comes to watch.
Attendees of Clarence Gilyard’s event will have the opportunity to hear from the famous actor and have the chance to meet him. “It is a powerful thing to listen to someone’s journey especially someone who has to try out for telivision shows and movies and might not have gotten the role, and how when they ended up with the right role it changed their life,” Reeves said.
“I really think students should come out and hear him speak and meet him, his journey is such an interesting one and such a positive one,” Winter said.
For more information on the Columbia Theatre or performances visit columbiatheatre.org or contact 985-543-4366.