Theater titan: It’s Marc Pettaway Day in Lake Charles today

Published 5:45 am Monday, July 11, 2022

By Ranna Hebert

American Press

The Lake Charles stage has not missed a production directed and staged by Marc Pettaway for more than 50 years. So today, the community comes together to celebrate and honor the man who has held this post longer than any other person professionally working in the arts.

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Mayor Nic Hunter has anointed July 11 Marc Pettaway Day.

On Saturday, Pettaway — along with his niece, Kathryn — found themselves surprised to be attending a tribute for Pettaway himself. The night featured a show, beginning with a brief introduction followed by “Consider Yourself” from “Oliver!”

On Saturday, Pettaway also received a large binder filled to the brim with love letters. The adoring friends, neighbors and admirers of Pettaway filled these letters with thoughtful memories, stories and appreciation. Some simply included Pettaway and ACTS Theatre’s impact on individual lives.

Pettaway graduated from Louisiana State University and earned his master’s degree from Northwestern State University. From there, he traveled to Japan and taught at the University of Tokyo.

Upon Pettaway’s arrival back into the States, he wished to travel to New York before being persuaded by his family to stay in Louisiana for a year. He never left.

Arriving in Lake Charles, Pettaway was a teacher of various subjects such as speech, drama, debate and college prep English. Four short years later, Pettaway was involved in community theater; then became the founding director of ACTS and began directing in 1966.

ACTs first began at the Arcade Theatre on Ryan Street.

Pettaway wrote the script and music for the first production, which was “Alice.” The regular seasons started the first big-scale comedy with Pettaway’s primary stage production of “A Thousand Clowns.”

In the following years, there were various musicals, non-musicals, and other productions such as “Annie,” “Chicago,” “Toys In The Attic” and “Steel Magnolias.”

Pettaway also brought dinner theater to the area, producing shows at the Sheraton Chateau Charles, Lake Charles Country Club, and the Hilton among a multitude of others.

In addition to his many accomplishments, Pettaway toured productions to various towns in Southwest Louisiana and has produced theatre workshops for City Park Players, Crowley Arts Council, and the Arts and Humanities of Southwest Louisiana.

His achievements have not gone thankless, as Pettaway has been recognized for his contributions to the state by the Louisiana State Senate, the Louisiana House of Representatives, governor of Louisiana, and the mayors of Lake Charles, Alexandria and Westlake.

After the close of the first show he staged for ACTS, “Oliver!”, Marc Pettaway said his final goodbyes to the ACTS Theatre in the fall of 2010.