Parkside Playhouse in midst of capital improvement campaign

Published 12:07 pm Monday, May 7, 2018

Nearly 40 years ago the Parkside Playhouse Theatre opened it doors.

As home to the Vicksburg Theatre Guild and “Gold in the Hills,” which is the Guinness Book of World Records’ longest running melodrama, hundreds of performances have been offered.

Wear and tear has taken its toll on the building and for the past few years, a capitol improvement campaign has been underway.

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VTG president Paul Ballard said the updates to the facility were broken down in four phases and the first three have been nearly completed.

The first phase consisted of adding on the lobby area, Ballard said, which allowed for additional bathrooms and costume storage spaces.

The second phase included shoring up some brick problems to the outside of the building.

The third phase, he said, focused on lighting and the rigging system, which houses the rope lines, pulleys, and related devices that enables a stage crew to manage the curtains, lights, scenery and stage effects.

However, because of the cost of the rigging, Ballard said, little was done with lighting.

“The rigging was so expensive that we did a little on the lighting, but not all that we want to, so we are kind of holding some ideas for improving our lighting, so we will see if we get more money after we finish with the parking lot,” Ballard said, which is the fourth and final phase.

Ballard said when the fundraising campaign started out it was estimated that they would need approximately $250,000 to accomplish all the projects.

However, over the course of six years, prices have gone up.

Ballard said to date, they are a little better than half way there with the needed funding to repave the parking lot, adding that no phase was started until they had the “money in the bank.”

Funding for all projects, Ballard said, have come through donations.

“Our ticket sales and memberships are sufficient to keep us running and fund our performances. Improvements to the building or anything that comes up like emergencies, all of that has to be done outside of our source of income and budget. So all of this has been done with donations,” he said.

Some of those donations have come from those wanting to honor or recognize a loved one, Ballard said, and from this a Wall of Distinction has been erected in the lobby of the theatre.

“A number of years ago I did a plaque for my dad, and it has been in the theater on that wall for a long time,” Ballard said.

“My main reason for doing that was because I knew of the activities he had been involved in around town and what he had meant to his patients and the community in general and I realized as time passed fewer and fewer people would remember who he was and so this was an opportunity, a public remembrance, of the things he was a part of,” Ballard said.

“So I thought for sure if that was good for Papa, there were some others who have made contributions and we would like to recognize them too. So I began to think of a few folks who had been a big part of the community,” Ballard said.

Currently those recognized on the wall are deceased, Ballard said, but the Wall of Distinction is not inclusive to those who have passed away.

There is another plaque that will be showcased on the Wall of Distinction, Ballard said and this person is still alive.

Ballard said most of the plaques consist of an etching of the person or persons who are being honored along with a brief write-up.

“We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before and hopefully we can continue to move the community forward,” Ballard said.

For those interested in honoring someone with a plaque, on the Wall of Distinction they come in three sizes, Ballard said, with costs of $5,500, $11,000 and $20,000.

For more information, call 601-529-9200.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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