Energize our community to be a thriving center for artistic culture and experiences.
Creating live community theatre experiences that engage, entertain, educate, and enlighten.
- Provide a climate of inclusiveness and belonging
- Foster an environment of learning and sharing
- Utilize local talents, skills, and resources to the fullest
- Create positive and enjoyable experiences
- Evoke meaningful conversations
The Murray Theatre:
Built in 1909 by Omar G. Murray.
The Murray Theater, also known as the Richmond Civic Theater, was built in 1909 by Omar G. Murray at a cost of $40,000 and originally named Murray Theatre. Omar G. Murray, who, with his partner, Gus Sun, operated a theater chain, leasing theaters in several Midwestern cities. In 1909, he built a new theater in Richmond at 10th and Main and put his own name on it.
The original building housed a 700 seat auditorium with 4 private boxes, a billiard hall in the basement, a barber shop and dry cleaner on the first floor, professional offices on the second, and apartments on the third. In its day, the Murray Theatre was the most state-of-the-art facility in town and attracted some of the biggest names on the vaudeville circuit including:
The Marx Brothers, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Fanny Brice, Sammy Davis, Jr.(as a child), and the Great Louis Armstrong.
The Murray Theatre closed in 1930 due to the depression but reopened a year later as a movie house under the name of The Indiana Theater.
The Richmond Civic Theatre Company was led by Norbert Silbiger. Silbiger was a Jewish refugee in Nazi Germany who was taken to Quaker Hill here in Richmond in 1940. It was there that his passion for live theatre was discovered by a group of ladies, led by Hazel Thornburg Emry – The Mother of Richmond Civic Theatre. Ms. Emry taught a volunteer drama class at Quaker Hill for refugees. Regarding her discovery of Norbert Silber’s talent, Ms. Emry is noted as saying “I have a new, little man in my group, and I’m convinced he’s a genius.”
In 1941 Emry, along with her sister, Cleo, and Norbert Silbiger, formed the Richmond Civic Theatre. The organization produced at least six performances a year and presented them in Goddard Auditorium on the Earlham College campus and at McGuire Memorial Hall.
In 1952 the building was leased by the Richmond Civic Theater and their programs begin showing productions at the “Indiana Theatre”. It was eventually purchased by the Richmond Civic Theatre in 1966 for $42,000 and the venue was renamed the Norbert Silbiger Auditorium, after a founding member and driving force of the company. It was renamed again, back to the Murray Theatre, in 1984 to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Executive Director John Faas
(Photo credit, Scout Wampler)
John holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Wright State University. During his time at WSU, John acted in multiple productions including, Inherit the Wind, Parade (Coached by Jason Robert Brown himself), Pirates of Penzance, Carousel, The Philadelphia Story, Merrily We Roll Along, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, States of Independence (Directed by Tina Landau – director of Broadway’s SpongeBob SquarePants, and music directed/composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, resident composer of New York Lyric Opera), and The White Rose.
Having played piano for over 25 years, John frequently takes up the baton as a local musical theatre music director and pit conductor/musician. To date, John’s artistic career highlights include directing Zoot Theatre Company’s first-ever musical-The Rocky Horror Puppet Show; playing keyboards for Avenue Q produced by The Human Race Theatre Company; conducting The Human Race’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone at Victoria Theatre on the Broadway Series – starring Broadway’s Jana Robbins; assistant-conducting the regional premiere of Band Geeks! – with Mykal Kilgore; music directing the Dayton Premiere of Spring Awakening produced by Encore Theatre Company; conducting and music directing The Human Race Theatre Company’s production of the Broadway Classic – Mame (one of his all-time favorites); Conducting his husband, Mike Embree (as Quasimodo) in Fairfield Summer Theatre’s production of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2018).
In May 2018, John founded Act Two Costumes & John Faas Designs, LLC (www.act2costumes.com), having most recently costumed “Hello, Dolly!” for Indian Hill High School in Cincinnati, OH (2021). John has costumed Harvey and CLUE: On Stage! (Stivers School for the Performing Arts, Dayton, OH), Annie (Dare 2 Defy Productions, Dayton, OH), and The Pajama Game and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Stebbins High School, Dayton, OH)
Two “favorite” moments of John’s entire career was having the opportunity to meet his long-time idol and Broadway legend, Jerry Herman (composer of Hello, Dolly, Mame, La Cage Aux Folles, Mack and Mabel, and many others) and, the original Dolly Gallagher Levi – Carol Channing.
Office Manager Bonnie Miller
(Photo credit, Scout Wampler)
Bonnie grew up in Rushville, Indiana, and studied at Purdue University, majoring in Communications, and the University of Cincinnati, majoring in Business Office Management. While at UC, she was President of the Alpha Eta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity.
Always interested in performing, Bonnie began by storming the church choir as a 3-year-old. Since then, she performed in A Cappella Choir in high school, as well as multiple high school theatrical productions, high school speech and debate, a university-based television program at Purdue, and spent nearly 30 years with Rush County Players Community Theatre group. Bonnie served as Secretary and President of the Board with Rush County Players, as well as either performing in, or working on the production team of, over 30 productions. Favorite performances include Annie Sullivan in The Miracle Worker, Peter Pan in Peter Pan, and The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Theatre has played an important role in Bonnie’s family life as well. All 3 of her children performed in multiple Rush County Players and high school productions, and she even met her husband in a Rush County Players musicale!
In 2008, Bonnie was honored to be chosen as one of 5 grassroots donors to meet with then-candidate Barack Obama. She and her husband currently live in New Castle, Indiana.
Stage One Managing Director Ryan Shaw
(Photo credit, Scout Wampler)
Ryan Shaw is the Managing Director of our Stage One Youth Theatre program. For the last 6 years, he has worked alongside the Stage One committee to grow and develop the program to bring powerful experiences in the arts to the students of our community. He began volunteering with RCT over 20 years ago and has been involved in countless productions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from IU, has a professional background in banking as well as having been involved with many of the youth organizations throughout our community.
In his spare time, Ryan enjoys cooking, traveling, spending time with family and nights by a bonfire with friends.
Technical Director Aaron Clarke
(Photo Credit, Teresa Smoker)
Aaron began volunteering with RCT in 2017 and quickly found a passion for the positive impact theatre has on youth through our Stage One program. Over those five years of volunteering he has served on the Stage Once committee, held several tech chair positions, worked on over 40 RCT shows and events, and even served a term on the RCT board. His passion for RCT has earned him two volunteer of the year awards in those years.
In his spare time, Aaron loves to travel with his husband Gene, volunteer and work with other arts organizations and just enjoy spending time with friends.
Pam is a local artist and designer who develops all of our artwork and promotional material. She works with many local arts organizations, businesses, and local governments on art, design, and beautification projects. She is also a partner and illustrator of Best Friends Books. You can find more about her here.
Teresa keeps our historic facility looking magnificent, despite the use of the building by hundreds of people each week. As a hobby, Teresa is an accomplished photographer, and her work is most of what you see on our website and social media platforms.