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ACU Home > Major Events > News > 2003 News Archive > Dedication of Fulks Theatre

ACU to dedicate Fulks Theatre with premiere of 'Joyful Noise'

For immediate release
Feb. 6, 2003

Abilene Christian University's Department of Theatre will celebrate the inaugural of Fulks Theatre in the Williams Performing Arts Center with the Texas premiere of Tim Slover?s "Joyful Noise."

The dinner theatre will run Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as Feb. 14-15, 21-22, featuring an inaugural gala at Saturday's performance. Tickets for the dinner and show are $25; tickets for the performance only are $10, with the exception of Saturday. Tickets for Saturday are $50 and include dinner, show, valet parking and the dedication of Fulks Theatre. Call 915-674-2787 from 1-5 p.m. weekdays for tickets.

Written by Tim Slover and directed by Adam Hester, chair of the Department of Theatre, "Joyful Noise" is an inspirational look at the triumph of the creative spirit, Hester said. Reviewers have called this true story of George Frederic Handel and his struggles to write and perform his famous "Messiah" oratorio "witty...scathing and inspiring."

Fulks Theatre, a 325-seat thrust-stage theatre, was named after Lewis Fulks, former ACU professor who directed sold-out ACU Homecoming Musicals for 30 years, and his wife, Jerry.

"Lewis and Jerry have made unparalleled contributions to the theatre arts at Abilene Christian," Hester said. "To honor them both, the university established the Lewis and Jerry Fulks Distinguished Professorship in Theatre Arts in 1987. The thrust-stage theatre in the Williams Performing Arts Center is named for them."

Jerelene Warren "Jerry" Fulks began her career at ACU in 1946. She served as the administrative assistant to the university's top financial officers for 46 years, retiring in 1992. Jerry created ACU Dinner Theatre menus for more than 30 years, and she attended countless productions. She was born in Rotan and graduated magna cum laude from ACU with a business degree in 1945. Jerry married Lewis Dec. 15, 1949, in Abilene.

Lewis Fulks, often called "the father of theatre at Abilene Christian University," began his work at ACU in 1949. He directed/designed 187 productions in 44 years; designed more than 400 sets constructed by students; drew 500,000 people to his shows; created the first permanent college dinner theatre; won the West Texas Chamber of Commerce Cultural Achievement Award for Outstanding Contribution; and received an honorary doctorate from ACU in 1991, when he formally retired as director of ACU's theatre program.

He was co-designer of ACU's first Homecoming musical, "The Wizard of Oz," and "The King and I" in 1961 was his first Homecoming musical to direct. He opened the Abilene Civic Center with the musical "The Sound of Music" in 1970. More than 7,700 patrons saw the three Civic Center performances, which were sold out four weeks before opening night. He earned national acclaim for directing, designing and producing the Homecoming musicals for 30 years. Lewis started the children's theatre at ACU, and he produced pageants for the university's 50th and 75th anniversaries.

The shows he produced were so successful that ticket sales paid for the productions and some of the salaries of theatre faculty and staff. Lewis earned his B.A. in dramatic arts from ACU in 1948 and his M.A. in drama from the University of Southern California. He completed all the coursework for a doctorate, but never stopped producing shows long enough to write his dissertation. He served as an ACU theatre professor and chair of the theatre department, and he taught the popular Film Appreciation class for many years.

He created made-to-scale models for many of the more than 400 sets, and he worked alongside students as they built the huge, intricate sets - some three stories tall weighing thousands of pounds. Students sewed costumes for almost all of the productions, and they learned about every aspect of backstage preparation as well as the art of acting. They created realistic home interiors, medieval sets, cityscapes and hundreds of other settings. Some of the set designs and production concepts were at least 20 years ahead of Broadway.

Lewis said he is especially proud of the contributions of ACU students to the successful theatre program.


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, university news coordinator.

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