Columbia Theatre celebrates life with new season


Courtesy of Faith Laurent

Through the storm that was COVID-19, many businesses struggled to stay afoot. The Columbia Theatre may not have been at their highest, but they were still able to learn and grow from what happened.

The theatre’s new season is a celebration of life, according to Artistic Director Jim Winter, as it is a symbol of commemorating what everyone has lost and what is now being taken back.

Winter shared what his favorite show for the new season is and why he is looking forward to it most.

“Personally, probably the ‘House on Haunted Hill.’ I’m a big Halloween buff, and I always enjoy working with the playwright of that piece,” he said. 

With a wide range of productions for people to choose from, Winter said he is unsure of which show will have the best turn-out. 

Winter said, “I would imagine people would be excited about the holiday. It’s an extravaganza, especially with the “Polar Express.” I think the live Rocky Horror in March will be very popular. It’s hard to say. You never know; sometimes the public surprises you! You think one show is going to be the big show of the year, and they fall in love with something else.”

The “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a classic, and Winter says he is sure that one will fill many sets. He added on why the Columbia’s version will be special. 

“We have two different things. In late October, we’re screening the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” We’re looking to make that an annual tradition because it was so popular last year. In the spring, with us staging the original musical, the “Rocky Horror Show” by Richard O’Brien, that’s the one where we have the creativity to play with it,” Winter explained.

Winter said that this musical will include many local talents, which will be a positive aftereffect from the pandemic. The musical will also be a co-production with the Southeastern Theatre Department.

He said, “We’re bringing in a guest director, Shane Stewart, who does a lot of work with talented theater students in Baton Rouge. We’re really excited to see what vision he brings to it.”

Guest director Shane Stewart said this will be his directing debut at Columbia. 

“I’ve directed all over the place. I’ve been teaching talented theater for about eighteen years, but I’ve never actually directed at the Columbia. I have directed at Vonnie Borden a couple of times,” Stewart said. 

Stewart explained that acting was his first dream, and he even got a Master’s Degree in Performance Art at UNO prior to discovering his passion for directing alongside Artistic Director Jim Winter. 

A Southeastern alum, Stewart said that he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in English at SLU where he took almost every class. Steven Schepker, the associate professor of theatre at the university, was his theatre professor. 

Stewart said he has many ideas for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

He said, “These characters have been around so long. They’re almost like heroes. I’m sort of giving a Superhero-y or Marvel spin on it. We’re not going to be doing Spider-Man on stage, but we want to honor those old comics with the bright colors and things like that.”

Tickets for upcoming shows such as “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” can be purchased online at the link 

Look out for the new season with a list of every exciting show to come: 

Jaws (August 14, 7:30 P.M.)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (August 28, 7:30 P.M.)

The House on Haunted Hill (October 15, 16, 22 and 23, 7:30 P.M.)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (October 29 and 30, 9:00 P.M.)

The Last Waltz, Hammond (November 5, 7:30 P.M.)

The Columbia Theatre’s Holiday Extravaganza (December 3, 6:00 P.M.)

The Nutcracker (December 10 and 11, 7:00 P.M. and December 12, 2:00 P.M.)

Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic, February 4 and 11, 7:00 P.M. and February 5 and 12, 2:00 P.M.)

Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show (March 11, 12, 18 and 19, 7:30 P.M.)

The 21st Annual Bill Evans Jazz Festival (April 6-9, 7:30 P.M.)

The Phantom of the Columbia: A Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre (April 27-30, 7:30 P.M.)

Star Wars: A New Hope (May 4, 7:30 P.M.)