In 1982, a little underground group called the Trinity Players, performing in local shopping malls as an affiliate of the Trinity Arts Foundation (now the Arts Council Northeast) and unknowingly began to spin the framework for a long-lived progressive theater company.
In time, the Trinity Players joined forces with a Fort Worth group called A Little Bit of Broadway. The merged performance troupes worked with the TAF and the City of Bedford to establish a permanent performance venue in what used to be the cafeteria of the Bedford Boys Ranch (now Generations Park). The City agreed to lease this empty shell of a building – which was scheduled for demolition – and the group raised $40,000 in donations for renovations. The venue was redesigned and eventually included a lobby, a box office, a raised proscenium stage, theater-style seating, a light/sound booth, two dressing rooms, a green room, prop and costume storage, construction materials storage, and more.
Upon moving into this new home in 1985, A Little Bit of Broadway was renamed ONSTAGE in Bedford. Our first production as ONSTAGE in Bedford was Alice in Wonderland. It was performed in the Trinity Arts Theater during reconstruction in 1985. The walls we tore down were now our seating platforms. The show was a hit and ONSTAGE bloomed. As the resident theater company of the Trinity Arts Theater, ONSTAGE produced a theatrical season of five adult shows and two children's shows the following year.
ONSTAGE was incorporated in 2004 and received 501(c)3 nonprofit status from the IRS the same year.
Eventually, ONSTAGE moved away from children’s theater and began producing seven shows a year, eventually incorporating two large scale musicals into the season. Shortly after our 30th anniversary, we began searching for more regional and world premiere productions, along with special events, like our popular Halloween radio shows.
In 2017, the City of Bedford announced plans to renovate the Bedford Boys Ranch Park, which unfortunately meant the end of the Trinity Arts Theater. Originally, the plan was to do the work in stages around the park, leaving the park’s existing buildings intact until the new multi-generational center was completed. Then, a new performance arts center was going to be built, and then ONSTAGE would move into a brand new facility. That plan eventually changed in 2019 into the “Phase Next” development, where the entire park was being done in one fell swoop (the development of the arts center was still under discussion), leaving all of the Boy Ranch resident organizations essentially homeless by the end of the summer in 2020.
Because of that plan, our 35th Anniversary season in 2020 was shortened to just 3 plays – One Slight Hitch, the regional premiere of Summerland, and the hit 80’s comedy, Educating Rita. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and hit fast. We were able to produce one weekend of Summerland before being closed down, and Educating Rita was cancelled.
As of this writing, ONSTAGE is moving into “storage mode” inside the second floor of the Old Bedford School and the city is working on securing a site for a performing arts facility. Our reemergence from hibernation depends on the pandemic and the timing of opening the new facility.
We’ll make an official announcement when we have concrete information to share! In the meantime, stay safe, take care of yourselves and we’ll see you when we see you, once again providing the affordable, award-winning productions you’ve come to enjoy at ONSTAGE.