The debut of Matchbox Children's Theatre and Puppet Theatre was in the autumn of 1975 under the wing of the Austin Park and Recreation Department. It was a collaboration of Bill Libby and Janet Anderson, both had theatre backgrounds and were employees of Park & Rec. Our first production was a musical, Sleeping Beauty or the Famous Rose Taboo, performed in the basement auditorium of Queen of Angels Church. Unfortunately, despite very positive audience response to Sleeping Beauty, budget constraints forced Park & Rec. to cut the children's theatre program but there is a happy ending. There was a strong core of enthusiastic people who wanted to see quality children's theatre continue in Austin. Soon after, MCT was established as an independent, 501 c 3 non-profit organization and in Spring of 1976 we produced Hansel and Gretel.
As we began plans for our MCT's second season, a theatre friend, Wally Nordin, proposed an arrangement that would enable us to move to the Austin Community College Theatre (Now the Frank W. Bridges Theatre at Riverland Community College/). Frank Bridges, College Theatre Director, agreed the College Theatre was our home until December of 1998 when we performed our last production there, Puss in Boots. As MCT evolved we phased out puppet theatre and concentrated our full energies on live theatre. In 1983 we renewed our relationship with the Austin Park and Recreation Department by co-producing the Halloween Warm-Up at the J.C. Hormel Nature Center. It has become a popular tradition every October.
In February of 1999 we were thrilled to move into our permanent home, the Historic Paramount Theatre. Our first production in the Paramount was Snow White & Rose Red. Janet Anderson, Co-Founder of MCT is still actively involved. Cindy Bellrichard, long time Board Secretary and Coordinator for Student Performances has been volunteering for MCT in many different ways since 1976. When we conclude our 36th season in the Summer of 2011 we will have presented 112 plays for children and their families. The enthusiastic response from "children of all ages" makes us proud to play a strong role in the Austin arts community. We eagerly anticipate many more years ahead of stimulating imaginations through the magic of live theatre!