The Port Aransas Community Theatre (PACT) held its first public meeting April 29th, 1990. Original members were Sharon Schaefer, John Williams, Christy Farley, Suzanna Reeder and Kim Kenkel, author of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. It is presently a non-profit organization run by an elected board of nine directors. For 9 years PACT was located in the old Port Theatre compound which earlier was an open-air, sit down movie theater back in the 1950s. Millie and Leo Baron, owners of the property, donated the outdoor portion in back of the original lobby for the first two years. PACT then leased that area for an additional seven years. Improvements made by PACT included building a 24′ deep by 42′ wide wooden stage anchored on huge round pier pilings, a roofed backstage dressing area, a tool shed, a paint shed, and a sound and lighting tech booth.
Due to the popularity of the winter dinner-theater productions performances were held indoors at various restaurants and condominium party rooms in Port Aransas, and PACT generated funds to purchase a second hand lighting system and sound system with multiple microphones and a sophisticated control panel and later a follow-spotlight was obtained.
Productions were presented of complete plays at the outdoor compound during the spring and fall. In the spring a Cabaret show was produced which included singing, dancing, short skits, stand up comedy, and instrumental solos highlighting local talent ranging from the age of 4 to 84! In the fall there was a Variety show of a similar nature. Presently, as in the past, actors are drawn from this small town of 3,322 people to participate; some are experienced, some have never been on stage before, but all are enthusiastic.
Most summers a children’s youth theatre is undertaken. Experience has shown that it is difficult to present full plays during summer season since most volunteers are working weekends in this totally tourist town. Also children have other activities they want to pursue which limits the time they can dedicate to a play. Past youth plays were ‘The Wizard of Oz’, ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Broadway to Port A’, ‘Under the Rainbow’, ‘Jungle Book’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘The Ugly Duckling’, ‘Stuart Little’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Grease’ and ‘Into the Woods, Jr’.
PACT has sponsored guest theatre groups on its stage, including the Corpus Christi Harbor Playhouse’s ‘Melodrama, the South Texas Performance Company’s ‘The Wiz, The Gulf Coast Players in ‘Sylvia’, and Ruby Melda Perez of San Antonio with her one-woman Latino plays. In the field of music, PACT has sponsored events such as the “Ain’t Nothin’ But The Blues” concert and the “Songwriters’ Showcase” where only original scores are presented. In the fall of 1996, the owners of Pelican’s Landing Restaurant began the Fall Back Festival, a music-wine-food tasting event dedicating the profits to the Port Aransas Community Theatre. In the spring of 1997, PACT began sponsoring an annual Masters competition in sand sculpting on the beach of Mustang Island now known as “The Texas Sandfest”.
In the fall of 1998, the group was fortunate to find a building they could lease to remodel into an indoor theatre. After four months of intensive renovation, the first performance was held on stage at 212 Beach St on January 8th, 1999. The Port Aransas Community Theatre members take great pride in each of the many productions presented.
In 2001, an anonymous donor offered the theatre $50,000, if they could raise money for the cost to build a new theatre home. That same donor in 2002 raised the offer to $100,00 when realizing the enormity of the cost of such a project. In August of 2002 the theatre’s board was able to obtain a building sit4e at a greatly reduced cost due to another generous anonymous donor family, part-time Port Aransas residents. Then in August 2003, the Board of Governors made the last mortgage payment on the land purchased for the new theatre. In December 2003, the original donor raised the total contribution to $150,000. Architectural building plans were drawn and donated, fill soil was donated to meet drainage requirements and plans for an aggressive fund raising drive began.
On February 28th 2005 a ground breaking ceremony took place and on May 2nd 2005 the first construction began on the corner of Sea Isle and Highway 361 for the new theatre home. Then on January 7th 2006, PACT had it’s first performance on its new stage, a free celebration for the many donors to the building fund.
In March 2010, PACT paid off the building mortgage and all debts with the help of grants and fund raising events.
The Port Aransas Community Theatre continues with it’s mission to bring quality live theatre to the residents and visitors of Port Aransas as well as exposing our youth to theatre skills and entertainment.