ITheatre is comprised of like-minded individuals with a love for theatre. Our mission is to make theatre accessible to everyone. ITheatre is supported by it’s patrons and local business sponsors. ITheatre believes that a community can support local arts and artists, and by doing so, it will become culturally enriched. We strive to produce professional quality theatrical productions that inspire and entertain our community.
We are excited to be part of the next chapter of The Tower Theater.
Tower Theater History
Attending a performance at the Tower Theater of Weslaco is an exciting and wonderful experience. Adding to the excitement of the live theatre performance, is the fact that it is being performed in a Texas Historical Building(1982). The ground level water storage reservoir was constructed in 1928, nine years after Weslaco was founded.
After only 10 years, the growing community of Weslaco needed a larger water vicinity. The ground facility was used until 1938 when work was begun on the adjacent overhead tank.
A project of the Works Progress Administration. It was completed in 1941. There was now a huge, unused, concrete building starving for attention. For years, the old water reservoir was used to store city supplies and welfare clothing
In 1962, City Manager Cecil E. Massey decided to use the building to benefit the entire community. He had studied under Paul Baker, noted director of the Dallas Theater Center during his college days at Baylor University. His vision for the old round eye-sore as a theater was begun by cutting openings at ground level in the 12 inch thick walls.
Massey collected odds and ends of canvas, doors from a Civic Center remodeling job, a parachute, and even a light from a battleship to create the first theater in the round in South Texas.
Acoustics in a round building with a high domed ceiling and constructed entirely of concrete presented the greatest problem. For several thousand dollars an acoustical engineer thought that he might make the building useable. But by using small town ingenuity, canvas
squares stretched over two by two lumber, similar to regular theater stage flats, on the walls in a checkerboard pattern absorbed much of the sound as well as providing a decorative treatment for the rough concrete interior.
The high domed ceiling was concealed by a sixty foot cargo parachute attached to the walls and drawn up in graceful folds to the small skylight in the center of the roof. These improvements plus the people in the audience solved the sound problem so that even a stage whisper could be heard.
Decorating the thirsty walls was accomplished by painting the entire building , including the lobby addition that was added around the tank, with blue-green army paint at 2 cents a gallon.
Outside, a deck light from a battleship illuminated the front of the building. It’s powerful beam reached up to the water tower which stands above and behind the city’s remodeling efforts.
A vision, less than one thousand dollars, and an abundance of American ingenuity, turned a lowly, abandoned water tank into a cultural asset for the City of Weslaco and surrounding communities.
The Tower Theater of Weslaco became the home of the Mid-Valley Civic Theatre in 1969. The first performance was held April 2, 1970. The Tower Theater of Weslaco has been updated with acoustical spray, a professional lighting system, air conditioning, risers for seating, and many other improvements throughout the years. It has been the home of over a hundred productions and many of the children who have worked and performed there have grown-up to
be successful theater teachers, playwrights, directors, and actors.
Board member of the Mid-Valley Civic Theatre for over 40 years, Shirley Atkins directed and participated in most of the productions throughout the theater’s history. “The Tower Theater has been a major part of my life, and I’ve loved every minute of it. We’ve produced major productions such as OLIVER and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. Shows that people said we could never produce, but we proved them wrong with excellent, high quality productions of major musicals as well as smaller shows. All produced with local talent.” Shirley posthumously received the 2015 CITIZEN OF THE YEAR award thanking her for her for “outstanding service to the City of Weslaco.”
Risë Morris, Shirley’s daughter, performed in shows and then directed shows at the Tower Theater of Weslaco for 47 years. “I love the Tower Theater of Weslaco and its power to bring joy to the participates as well as the audience. I’ve spent my whole life in this theatre.”
In 2017 Risë Morris retired and left some very big shoes to fill. ITheatre had been producing plays at The Braught Memorial Theater for years and the group decided to take up the challenge of continuing the dream that is The Tower Theater. ITheatre is dedicated to keep the Tower Theater as the heart of the performing arts in the Rio Grande Valley.