In 2011, a community group with a strong desire to promote and support theater arts got together and founded The Farmers Branch Community Theatre. Now in their eighth season, they are known as The Firehouse Theatre because, well, they perform their shows — which are mostly musicals — in a repurposed firehouse.
Firehouse Executive Director David Moore says the company’s origins were some people with theater background who as “a few of the founders had some theater background, both amateur and professional, and others just enjoyed and supported theater arts.”
The group of theater boosters immediately began searching for possible performance venues and quickly identified historic Fire Station No. 1 as the ideal location. Built in 1958, the facility served the city for more than 50 years, but by 2011, larger fire and medical equipment and new technology forced Fire Station No. 1 to move to a larger facility.
In early 2012, the fledgling company moved into the original Farmers Branch Fire Station No. 1 building and began cleaning and painting and using the space for rehearsals. In fall 2014, they began transforming the space into a theater and had their first show in November of that year.
Moore recounts some the challenges Firehouse Theatre has faced along the way.
“The facility only had heat, no air conditioning, and in the summer of 2015, we rented temporary air conditioners so we could continue producing shows in the space,” he says.
The City of Farmers Branch has been a big supporter and subsequently has installed HVAC, audience seating risers and public restrooms.
The Firehouse Theatre typically does 15 performances of their Main Stage show and 24 performances of their Summer Show, which this year will be Mamma Mia. Moore says the average attendance is around 135 patrons in the 161-seat proscenium-style theater.
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“Some shows have performances that are completely sold out," Moore says.
Nearly all of Firehouse Theatre’s actors and production people are from DFW, with many long-term cast members returning show after show. But they are always coming across new talent.
“We have many new people come to auditions," Moore says. "Typically we have over 100 actors audition for a show with maybe 20 to 30 roles to be cast.”
Since its inception, DFW’s Column Awards has recognized Firehouse Theatre productions with more than 90 nominations and 30 awards. Their production of Pippin was named 2018's Best Musical-Non-Equity, and their production of Peter and the Starcatcher was named Best Play-Non-Equity. They were also awarded 2018's Best Performance Venue Under 500 Seats by national theater organization BroadwayWorld.com.