MTA festival opens as participants remember legacy of Tom Booth

Tom Booth, longtime executive director of the Tupelo Community Theatre, died earlier in the week.

TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) – Nearly a thousand people are in Tupelo for a festival celebrating theatre and the arts. At the same time, those at the event are mourning the loss of a force in the Mississippi Arts community.

As you walk into the Lyric Theatre, the registration area for the Mississippi Theatre Association Festival is to your right, and in the middle of the lobby, a memorial honoring Tom Booth, the longtime executive director of the Tupelo Community Theatre.

No matter where they’re from in the state, everyone has a story about Booth and his love and influence on community theatre and the arts.

“In our state, nationwide, he has served on several different boards in several different capacities, and everyone who knows theatre knows Tom Booth,” said MTA President Juniper Wallace.

The festival features workshops, and performances by Community Theatre groups, along with college and high school drama teams.

“We put a lot of work into this and we get to really show what we’ve worked on and get to see all the other schools, yeah, I’m excited,” said Corey Trotter, of Oak Grove High School, in Hattiesburg.

“This festival creates an opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful and talented people. Everyone has come from a lot of different places and we have all learned different things and I think us being here will create more opportunities for us to learn, there’s things to do here like workshops, and meet talented people, there’s professionals here who will help us be better actresses and actors,” said Abigail Lamphear, of Lafayette High School in Oxford.

It has been more than ten years since Tupelo hosted MTA, and Tom Booth was instrumental in getting the festival here this year. TCT board members say they have no doubt Tom would have wanted the festival to continue.

“All of us said, Tom would be saying, ‘Why are y’all sitting around, get up and get to work. We have stuff to do,’ because theatre was his life. He loved theatre, throughout the state of Mississippi, the southeast region, he lived and breathed theatre. We are doing this weekend and continuing with it to honor him and his memory and in spirit, he will be here with us,” said Bobby Geno, a TCT board member.

“Tom had such an impact on everyone’s life, being a supporter, a friend and for us to come here to see the TCT family pulling together making this happen it shows the legacy he really did leave,” said Stacy Howell, executive director of MTA.

The MTA Festival runs through Sunday. Tickets are available to the public. For more information, you can call the TCT Box office at (662) 844 1935.

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