Thoughts on the Future of Clarksville and the Roxy

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on November 20, 2015

I have a friend in the current Leadership Clarksville class who had a query concerning how to bring people downtown.

It started me thinking that, in our eagerness to make travel accessible, we have done everything possible to lead travel away from downtown. We made a bypass, a cross-thru and a go-around — which, of course, sends traffic away from the heart of our city. Even the cut-thru at University Avenue eliminates awareness of our city’s center.

There has been talk, but no movement in that direction, of making Franklin Street from First to Second Streets a walking thoroughfare. No expensive surveys required, just give it a try.

My recent trip to Knoxville was fortuitous, since Clarksville has come from being Tennessee’s fifth largest city to being its fourth.

Knoxville’s downtown reminded me of Paris or London. The shops on Market Square were open on a Sunday until 8pm. Locals and students filled the square, where police on bicycles made everyone feel safe and secure. I counted five live theatre venues and more than ten non-chain restaurants on the square. I was in hog heaven.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future, not only mine but ours — the theatre’s and Clarksville’s. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around sold-out houses for The Rocky Horror Show and the not-so-great attendance for The Music Man and Oliver. Rocky and Grease are always our biggest sellers, but, unlike the Met, we cannot present the ABCs (Aida, Boheme, Butterfly and Carmen) every year.

It’s like bread and games, the Christmas lights and the crews which start before Halloween. I know they could be doing something else, something which would put their skills to better use. Then we are told the lights will stay entangled on the trees — but, no, come the short bleak days of January and February, we are dark and need the spirit-lifting lights.

I’m not a Christmas curmudgeon, but there are myriad ideas and ways to light up trees with less manpower, for less money and a one-time fix. Think of the RJ Corman Railroad Bridge, only in seeing the waste in money and time. I guess I’m just old-fashioned.

Why we try to emulate Franklin, and now Knoxville, I’m unable to understand. Embrace Clarksville, of course, and make it better. Embrace its assets and try to fix its foibles. But make it a tourist destination.

The more than beautiful Secret Garden plays tonight at 8pm, as well as Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, with the final three performances at 7pm next Wednesday, November 25, and Thanksgiving night (including apple, pumpkin or pecan pie served at intermission by properly attired English maids) and at 8pm on Friday, November 27. This is the perfect family production, one of which we are proud due to its beauty, its sentiment and its simple story of love and rebirth.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

Previous post:

Next post: