By Bonnie J. Miller Rushville Republican
---- — In 1975, a group of friends and like-minded Rush Countians got together following a Music Study Club program, and formed the Rush County Players. These founders included: Wilmer Cameron, Al Hodge, Mike Woods, David Malson, Marcia Blair, Janet Malson, Connie Barada, Sue Taylor, Muriel Moore, Rex Lanning, Jeff Hufford and Teri Lanning.
Meetings, auditions and rehearsals usually took place at member’s homes. Since RCP did not yet have a home of their own, shows were presented at various sites around the county. This show debuted at Rushville Elementary School. Other venues used in the early years include the Wilkinson Building (particularly for musicales), Milroy School, the Graham
Annex (most commonly known as the junior high), and the Durbin Hotel and Restaurant.
By RCP’s five year mark, membership was up to 250. This was also the year that the Whitewater Valley Presbytery sold the old Milroy Presbyterian Church to the Players for the cost of $1, to be used as their meeting place and playhouse. This was to be RCP’s home for nearly the next two decades. It required a great deal of upkeep, and due to flooding issues, RCP was forced to move out of this home in the late 90s.
In 1999, Rush County Players purchased the former “Boys and Girls Club” to be used as an audition and rehearsal hall. This building served as RCP’s home-base until the cost of upkeep and repair became overwhelming. Currently, RCP is utilizing a storefront at 306 N. Main, and continues to look for a permanent home that will allow us to continue our mission to be an organization to perform drama for the enjoyment of the community, provide fellowship for all people of theatrical interests, and provide for the education of the membership and the community to further develop their dramatic skills and appreciation.
Rush County Players have been struggling in recent years. Financially, we have taken a hit just like everyone else in our community. Our membership numbers have declined, attendance numbers have fallen, efforts to partner with a new venue did not pan out as hoped for. However, as one of the last surviving small-town community theatres in our area, we keep trying. Last year, we presented several productions, utilizing various venues.
We instituted new community outreach programs, such as middle-school dances, participated in many community activities, such as GardenFest, RushFest and others, and our fund-raising efforts, once hampered, are on the upswing.
As a long-time member of the Rush County community, we are asking for your help. Buy a membership, come to a show, make a donation. Our goal is to find a new, permanent home that will allow us storage space, audition and rehearsal room, and hopefully, a venue to produce our shows and to re-institute childrens’ theatre workshops.
We have heard the comments about the most recent venues, we know some are unhappy with some of our productions. We are listening. But, the only way we can make the needed changes is with the support of members, and the community at large.
If you would like to help Rush County Players continue to be a home for those with theatrical interests, a place for children to learn how to follow directions, memorize, work with others, and find a terrific creative outlet that will assist them later in life, and to be an affordable live entertainment option in the days of nearly $9 movie tickets, please contact Rush County Players, in Rushville at 765-938-1711.