It all started last century ...
In the summer of 1986, a series of meetings were held under the initiative of a group known as Borderline Theatre, whose objectives were to bring both professional and amateur theatre to the Fort Erie area.
Ridgeway Resident Derek Joynes, who had much prior experience in Little Theatre groups in Ontario and England, was approached to cast and direct a season of amateur performances.
A public audition was held and an encouraging turnout of 25 people with an array of theatrical talents responded. The play Plaza Suite by Neil Simon was selected to be the fledgling group's first production.
Negotiations with management at the former Garrison Inn (on Central Avenue) resulted in the decision to run the show as dinner theatre in the hotel's basement. Hotel furnishings were to be used in the set and the Inn would also provide the meals.
At a further meeting, the group's current name and logo (the toy soldier) as well as a 5-member executive were chosen. Initial funding (a $1,200.00 loan) was generously provided by the Fort Erie Rotary Club and was proudly repaid from the proceeds of the first show. Garrison Little Theatre has stood on its own feet ever since.
Plaza Suite was dedicated to the memory of the original cast member, Monty Lewis, who tragically took ill and died a month prior to the opening.
On October 30, 1986, Garrison Little Theatre opened to a full house and was very well received, in spite of the fact most of the audience could not see the low and obscured stage very well. Despite this initial success, it was sadly obvious that the facility was physically inadequate to provide a quality production and the search began for a new venue.
As a result, our second production, Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, was performed on the stage at the Italo-Canadian Club, the dinner was provided by Maria's Catering and the bar was run by volunteers from Keystone Kelly's.
Fort Erie had its live theatre company, local thespians had an arena to develop their talents, and foremost... a new, vibrant community group was created where friendships would flourish and excellence would be the goal.