Signal Mountain Playhouse a Family Tradition
Located at the crest of Walden’s Ridge a few minutes from downtown Chattanooga sits the town of Signal Mountain. Although the community is relatively small, it has been recognized as one of the best communities in Tennessee, including in 2013 when it was chosen by Bloomberg Businessweek as on of the best places to raise a family. One of the reasons given by the report was the Signal Mountain Playhouse.
The playhouse is nestled in the woods in an outdoor amphitheater just off the main road leading through Signal Mountain. Each year the community comes together to produce one Summer musical. This year the production is the family classic Peter Pan.
The Signal Mountain Playhouse began in 1972 when Glenn Showalter was inspired to bring live theatre to Signal Mountain and to offer families who live on the mountain something creative to do, as well as a way to give back to the community. In 1975 the playhouse moved into its current location when commissioner Gene Schimph saw its potential and rallied for the community’s support.
“Everything is community driven. From the actors, stage crew and set building, even the concession stands, everything is done by members of the community.“ foundation member Anne Rittenberry said.
Anne has been involved with the Signal Mountain Playhouse since 1982. She originally became part of the playhouse almost by accident. Her daughter auditioned for a role in that year’s production of “South Pacific.” Encouraged by friends who were part of the production to participate, Anne decided to join the chorus and played a nurse in the production. She’s been part of the playhouse ever since, including twice serving as president if the board.
“Theatre is beautiful. You begin with a blank canvas and on this canvas paint a story. From the ground up, the magic of theatre starts from an idea. Actors, directors, set builders, they bring this idea to life.” Anne said.
Since its inception in 1972 the Signal Mountain Playhouse has grown and continues to grow each year and do more ambitious shows. Where once a few instruments such as a piano or drum backed the productions, they now feature an orchestra led by Sandy Morris who is also the philharmonic conductor for the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera’s youth orchestra.
“It’s very much a family thing, whole families are often involved in the productions. Mothers and daughter, fathers and sons, everyone gets involved. ” Anne said. “It’s the fun and excitement that draws people to it. You step into a new world.”
Peter Pan opened on July 10th, 2015 and continues each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday through July