In 1964, two New York producers established a summer stock theatre in a vacant resort inn on the highest point in Roanoke, Virginia. Soon dubbed Mill Mountain Playhouse, the company underwent a series of institutional changes, finally incorporating as a not-for-profit, non-Equity resident stock theatre. When the original playhouse burned down in 1976, the company moved to the recently re-opened Grandin Theatre, an old movie house in an established neighborhood. With the opening of Center in the Square in 1983 came a year-round class schedule and a new name—Mill Mountain Theatre. The growing company’s ever-increasing quality and scope was a major force in the renaissance of downtown Roanoke.
From these modest beginnings grew one of the most respected regional theatres in the US. Mill Mountain Theatre now presents world premieres, dramatic classics, full-scale musicals, youth-oriented classes and educational classes for all ages—on its two stages in Roanoke, and touring productions that travel throughout Virginia.
Within its shops and offices spread across the Center in the Square complex, Mill Mountain Theatre has created more than 400 productions, including world and regional premieres; the national hit All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten; and the American premiere of Children of Eden.
The Norfolk Southern Festival of New Works served as an annual home for the winners of the Mill Mountain Theatre New Play Competition (no longer running), and now showcases other notable playwrights like Sherry Kramer (Partial Objects); Jeffrey Stanley (Tesla’s Letters and Medicine, Man); Julie Jensen (Tenderhooks, Last Lists of My Mad Mother); Tom Ziegler (Grace and Glorie); Jim Henry (Angels of Lemnos); and Robert Caisley (The 22-Day Adagio).
As a professional, year-round, regional theatre with roots in its community and excellence as its primary objective, Mill Mountain Theatre has proudly served the region and the industry for more than 50 years.