Bill and Marilyn Brown opened the Little Brown Theatre in 1998, in a building across the street from their Villa Playhouse Theatre. After Bill Brown suffered health problems, the Villa Playhouse closed in 2004, followed by the Little Brown in 2005.
“We regretted closing the Villa and selling the building...” said Bill Brown. “It took me six years before I felt well enough to consider tackling theater again.”
The Browns, both in their 70s, enlisted the help of the younger Brent and Sara Harvey, longtime residents of Springville with 25 years of theater experience. Sara will serve as producer and artistic director. Brent will be the new theater’s technical director.[1, 2]
The new Little Brown Theatre opened on 28 October 2011, across the street from its former location, with “The Assassin’s New Friend,” a thriller by John Kaasik.[1, 2, 3] Bill Brown originally purchased the building, built in 1898, to serve as rehearsal space for the Villa Playhouse Theatre. It was most recently home to the Gift of Grace Christian Supply store. The space was remodeled into a black box theater with 40 to 50 seats. “Sets will be minimal and seating areas flexible so they can be moved around to accommodate different shows.” Shows will typically have less than ten cast members.
Speaking of the theater's small size, Bill Brown said, “And it’s really a thrill to sit there so close to the stage and you’re part of the action. It’s a unique theater experience.”
The Little Brown Theatre will present a few of its own productions each year, then fill out its calendar with bookings by other groups, such as Provo’s Zion Theatre Company, Utah Lyric Opera, and Springville Playhouse.[3, 4]
“I love theater and what it does for a community,” said Bill Brown. “Theater does so much for young people. I look at theater akin to playing sports. Theater builds self-esteem, young people become part of a team and they learn that the show is only as good as the individual players on the stage.”
1. "Little Brown Theatre reopening in Springville", Springville Independent News, 01 October 2011
2. "‘Assassin’s New Friend’ to make Utah debut at Little Brown Theatre", Springville Independent News, 28 October 2011
3. "Springville's Little Brown, the little theater that could, to reopen", Deseret News, 29 October 2011
4. "Little Brown Theatre to reopen with 'Assassin's New Friend'", Daily Herald, 27 October 2011