Founded in 1934, The Little Theatre of Alexandria began as a small play-reading group. Full productions ensued, and in 1939 the group bought a rickety former blacksmith’s shop located in Ramsey Alley, between Lee and Fairfax Streets, for rehearsal space and construction of sets and costumes. Since 1934, the theatre has mounted over 350 productions.
Early productions were held upstairs at Gadsby’s Tavern and recreated life in the 18th century, right down to the visit of President and Mrs. Washington journeying from their Mount Vernon home. Over the years, audience members included a veritable “Who’s Who” of Washington. President Harry S. Truman attended on more than one occasion, and notes say that Lynda Bird Johnson even participated as a serving wench! In June 2001, President George W. Bush made LTA his first Washington-area theatrical outing when he came to see his sister-in-law perform in Neil Simon’s Proposals.
During the early 1940s, with war in both Europe and Asia, LTA decided to suspend operations. In a time of war rationing, theater seemed like a luxury that was best set aside until peace returned. In late 1945, the theatre resumed normal operations. During the 1950s, an empty lot at the corner of Wolfe and St. Asaph Streets became the permanent home of LTA. At first, the City of Alexandria generously agreed to rent the space to LTA for $1 per year. The theatre building was finally completed, and the first production – the comedy Send Me No Flowers – opened on November 18, 1961. A west wing was added five years later to accommodate dressing rooms, a sewing room, a rehearsal hall, and a carpenter shop. A later addition included more shop space and the Council Green Room. In the 1970s, LTA formally purchased the land from the City of Alexandria. Today, LTA is the oldest award-winning theater in the Washington metro area and one of the few community theaters in the country with its own building and an ambitious seven-show season.