Spanish Trail Playhouse
The Spanish Trail Playhouse was initially founded in 1962. It began under the leadership of local community members Ann Jensen, Howard Pelham, Mickey Balaban, and Ralph Nolan, who had a dream of bringing live theatre into the town of Chipley, Florida. The group decided upon three plays per year, and on September 7, 1962 the Spanish Trail Playhouse opened its curtains for the first time with Southern Exposure, a 1950’s romantic comedy, under the direction of Mickey Balaban. The second show was The New Moon, a musical by Sigmund Romberg, under the direction of Ralph Nolan followed by the final show for the first season, Dial M For Murder.
The Florida Arts Council recognized, following two successful seasons, the Spanish Trail Playhouse in 1964 as a Charter Member, a position they would hold for the next four years. Over these years, the Spanish Trail Playhouse presented a variety of successful shows, including Show Boat, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Arsenic and Old Lace. The Spanish Trail Playhouse ran for seven very successful years after that, but following the final performance of The Sound of Music, the playhouse closed its curtains for what many thought to be the last time in fall of 1968.
In August 2006, under the leadership of Kevin Russell, work began to bring the Spanish Trail Playhouse back to Washington County and its citizens. The Spanish Trail Playhouse became incorporated through the state of Florida on April 8, 2007. On September 5, 2008, merely one year since its reestablishment, the Spanish Trail Playhouse officially opened its curtain again, with a 3-day performance of Steel Magnolias, and has held successful seasons since.