The cast of "A Day at the Java Shop" with Roger Cosgrove.

The cast of “A Day at the Java Shop” with Roger Cosgrove.

By Mike Steely

The late Nita Buell Black and several other people decided to create the Powell Playhouse following an alumni meeting of Powell High School graduates in 2010. They had talked about creating an acting group prior to that but after the alumni meeting finally set about contacting other people in the community who might be interested in putting on stage plays.

The first play, “The Curious Savage,” was staged in June of 2011 at the Jubilee Banquet Facility and the group was off and running. But in 2013, founder Nita Black discovered she had lung cancer and passed away in February of 2014.

“It has been somewhat of a painful transition without her,” Gina Jones told The Focus, adding, “We all decided to carry on this wonderful gift that Nita left our community.”

While the Playhouse doesn’t have an actual “Playhouse” location they have continued to perform at the Jubilee Banquet Facility on Callahan Drive.

“We just completed our 14th production in October and are working on our schedule for next season,” she said.

Thus far the Powell Playhouse has presented “The Curious Savage,” The Night is My Enemy,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” “Louder, I Can’t Hear You,” “The Odd Couple,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Everybody Loves Opal,” “Crimes of The Heart,” A Nice Family Gathering,” “Happy Holly Days,” and “The Night of January 16th.”

“’A Day at The Java Shop and Greyhound Bus Depot‘  was our last play and we were totally surprised by the author, Roger Cosgrove, coming all the way from Canada to attend the performance. This was a wonderful boost for all of us and we are excited for our future,” she said.

Currently the Powell Playhouse is planning on two plays. Auditions for “Harvey” will be held in January and auditions for “Five Women Wearing the Same Dress” will be held in April. Performances are planned for March 10, 11, and 12 for “Harvey” and June 23, 24, 25 for “Five Women.”

“In addition we have been a part of Knox County School Shades of Development program the last couple of summers and we hope to hold a camp for the kids in the near future,” Jones said.

“The one thing that Nita and I agreed on, we will do this as long as we feel it is God’s will,” she said.

Jones said the Playhouse does its best to keep the plays family friendly —not to ignoring the realities of life but hopefully presenting them in a way that shows love wins.

“Powell has so many talented people and we want to give them a venue to share their talents. We hold an annual art show in November for all the local artists to set up and sell their works,” she said. “In January we held our first ‘Night at the Improv’ at Powell High School and included an original short play written by Powell’s own Bob Longmire. In February we held a Valentine’s Sock Hop and silent auction.”

The Powell Players Inc. includes Gina Jones, president; Carolyn Wells, secretary; Mona Napier, treasurer; and board members Mary Cunningham, Paula Johnson, Christy Rutherford, Flash Black, Charles Denney, Terry Rose, Helen Sellers, Kelli Tidmore and Bob Longmire.

If you are interested in trying out for one of the upcoming parts or if you’re interested in becoming involved with the Powell Playhouse you can find them on the internet at,  on Facebook or on Twitter at @powellplayhouse.