Back Alley Productions President/Head Director Kaylee Smith is helping transform part of the Mars Theatre in preparation for the troupe's productions this season.
some text
Back Alley Productions President/Head Director Kaylee Smith is helping turn the stage area at the historic Mars Theatre into what she calls a black box theater concept so that actors are intermingled with the audience.


Auditions for the opening show, “Death of a Salesman,” are March 14-15 at the theater, 117 N. Chattanooga St. in LaFayette. The show will run most of the month of May with four main characters and seven ensemble characters. People ages 20-70 are needed for these roles. Auditions are open to anyone that wish to get involved on the stage. Spots are available for backstage crew and opportunities for directing.

Not only is a new artist troupe now calling the Mars Theatre home, when the theatrical production company hosts its first production in May, it will be in a new format.

"When we found out the Arts Guild would not be at the Mars Theatre anymore, we said, 'What do we do to keep the space from being boarded up?'" said Back Alley Productions Head Director/President Kaylee Smith, who has since signed a contract with the theater's owner. "We've had an overwhelming support from the community. They really want something like this to do well here."

In preparation for the group's first show, "Death of a Salesman," the theater is being transformed to make the entire space the stage. This will allow the actors to interact with the audience, rather than being separate from them.

"This allows us to think outside the box," Smith said. "It provides an engaging setting and allows us to do anything. Our shows are not held back by the stage. The renovations will be done by our opening show. We are updating the lobby and turning the upstairs into a rehearsal space and costume and prop storage."

She envisions the historic theater soon reaching the same level of success it had in its glory days in the 1930s. The building opened in 1931 as the Mars Cinema, said Smith, and shut down as a movie theater in the '50s.

"The only way to be successful is to get people involved. We are looking for sponsors and supporters as well," she said. "We know the history of this space pulls people in. People get excited when they find gems of the South like this theater. Soon we will be a 501(c)(3). We are open to sponsorships and private funding and grants."

In keeping with its motto of "theater for everyone," she said the upcoming season will include "the hard dramas, family fun shows and teen shows."

For example, the second play of the season, "The Importance of Being Earnest in the Zombie Apocalypse," will partner a classic play with a new-age theme to attract all ages in the audience.

"We plan to have a full season with six shows here this year with one traveling show based out of Mars, two children's shows and one Shakespeare kid's camp in the summer time to teach theater and classical training," Smith said. "We are excited to get started.

"We found a home and the community has a place to enjoy the show, so it works out. We hope to do even more the following year."

Smith said she's seen people from Signal Mountain, Athens, Tenn., and Marietta come to see Back Alley Productions at various locations.

To learn more, find "Back Alley Productions" on Facebook. The production company is showing "Alice in Wonderland" at The Colonnade March 11-12.