HISTORY

The Story of the Star began on May 2, 1949, when construction of the Star began by Mr. A.V. Lutrell, who  owned the Strand theater also located in Russell Springs. The building now stands over the location of the old Post Office and the Blue Grill. Originally to be called ‘the Russell’ the name was changed to the Star. 

 

On February 28, 1950 at 6:00 the Star opened with the motion picture Mrs. Mike starring Dick Powell and Evelyn Keys. The building originally had a bowl-shaped floor and could seat 510. The building served as a movie theater for three decades before closing its doors. 

 

During the years after it closed, the building served as a variety of businesses, including furniture stores, clothing stores, a restaurant and a disco, but nothing ever occupied the building for long. 

 

In 1984, a group of Russell Countians that were enthusiastic about the arts applied for and received a New Communities Challenge Grant from the Kentucky Arts Council.

 

The initial goal of the organization was to stimulate cultural enrichment and growth through exposure to drama, music, fine art and literature. The original venue of the Arts Council was the Old Liberty Play House that was replaced by the Star Theater. 

 

Then in 1988, during a period where the structure stood vacant, the mayor of Russell Springs asked the Russell County Arts Council to help plan an event for the city’s centennial. The council staged a special event in the old Star Theater called ‘the Old Town Museum’.

It was during the festival that Dr. Roger Grider called to inform that he was very interested in contributing a sum of money to a worthy cause in Russell County. His gift of $50,000 was used to purchase the building and the remaining money went toward the renovation. 

 

In July 1994, after several years of planning and extensive remodeling the Star held its Grand Opening as a performing arts theater. 

 

Since opening the remodeled Star Theater in July 1994, the Russell County Arts Council has staged over a hundred productions ranging from major plays to dance and musical performances, from performances by the Lake Cumberland Choral Society to gospel singings, to magic shows and even a dulcimer concert. Country music superstar Steve Wariner, who grew up in Russell Springs, has performed to sellout crowds. In addition to providing a "professional" venue for students enrolled in Russell County High School's drama classes, the theater has been used for programs involving the community's School Safety Programs.

 

An innovative series of plays performed by casts consisting entirely of children in all roles has given local and area youth a significant stage and performing experience. Many of these have gone on to perform with the theater in adult roles, and several have advanced into drama programs at major universities.

 

Additionally, the Star Theater and its annex building, the Norfleet Gallery, have been used to focus on other artistic endeavors. An annual Arts & Crafts festival is held in November, allowing regional writers, artists and craftspersons opportunities to display and sell their works. The smaller Gallery inside the Star Theater usually features displays of local and regional art, photographs, quilting and more during the performance runs of major productions.

 

Major musical productions have included the Wizard of Oz, several annual performances of The Nutcracker ballet, plus major Broadway shows such as Annie, Oklahoma!, The Sound of Music, Grease and others. Dramas and comedic plays featuring casts of up to 60 persons have included classics such as Frankenstein, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, The Odd Couple, Oliver Twist, The Secret Garden, Tom Sawyer and others. Contemporary plays have included Beauty & The Beast, Faith County, Here Come The Brides, Lizzie Borden, Night Mother, Rumors, Steel Magnolias, Ten Little Indians, Twelve Angry People and others. Several original plays have been performed in recent years as well.

© 2019 THE RUSSELL COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL

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