150 Boise Icons: Boise Little Theater

March 11, 2013 

Boise Little Theater is one of the oldest all-volunteer community theaters in the country.

FILE PHOTO

To put things in context, Boise Little Theater started presenting plays in a theater at Gowen Field in 1948. That was the same year Israel and Pakistan declared independence, the Hells Angels motorcycle gang formed in California and Arturo Toscanini made his television debut with an all-Wagner program.

Since then, BLT casts have performed everything from "Dracula" to "Arsenic and Old Lace." The former involved complicated illusions with smoke, mirrors and a real German shepherd playing the role of a wolf. The latter has graced the stage no fewer than three times. It was the first play performed in 1948. The group revived it for its 25th and 50th seasons.

The group's darkest era came in 1956, when a fire killed two BLT members and burned the theater.

The community rallied to build the troupe's distinctive, dome-shaped home on Fort Street. Noted local architect Art Troutner designed the theater pro bono, using the then-innovative curved laminated beams as structural elements. Other community members donated building materials and sweat equity. According to theater literature, Troutner often brought clients to the theater to show off his construction innovations.

The theater is known for its devoted membership, including those who have been with the troupe since its earliest years.

A plaque memorializing the two men who died in the Gowen fire hangs in the Fort Street lobby.

Anna Webb: 377-6431

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