It began in 1926 when the Orlando Little Theatre was part of the City of Orlando’s Recreation Department. The Orlando Little Theatre then merged with the Community Players in 1955 to form the Orlando Players, Inc. In 1968, the name was changed to the Central Florida Civic Theatre and the theatre’s presence was firmly ensconced in Loch Haven Park.
In 1969, a dramatic school was established and increased a prevailing interest to raise money to build a theatre in Loch Haven Park. As a result, the new 350-seat Edyth Bush Theatre and the Tupperware Children’s Theatre opened in October 1973. From that time, ever-expanding programs required additional space, and a rehearsal hall was added in June 1979.
The Children’s Theatre Series for grades K-3, with adults performing for children, began in 1975 and later became the Theatre for Young People to reflect the expanded age range served.
In 1986, a second expansion of the theatre added offices, dressing rooms and a major workshop area for the Tupperware Theatre to meet the growing program needs. The name of the theatre was then changed to the Civic Theatre of Central Florida to reflect a more common usage and the facilities began being referred to as the Civic Theatre Complex.
In 1990, construction was completed on the largest expansion to date–the 400-seat Ann Giles Densch Theatre for Young People, which provided for the growth and enhancement of all existing programs with the theatre now offering black box, proscenium and thrust stages.
During the 1990s, the Civic Theatre produced a season of 17 professional productions, impacting over 100,000 visitors annually. The theatre also offered training and special performance opportunities for students and seniors.
The merger between the University of Central Florida Theatre Program and the Civic Theatre of Central Florida created the Orlando Repertory Theatre in the year 2000. The REP, as it is commonly known, is a professional theatre for young audiences that offers a mainstage season, classes, camps, outreach and performance opportunities for young artists, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre for Young Audiences.
In October 2003, The REP marked the historical opening of a six-show performance series for family audiences in the old Civic Theatre Complex, known now as the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Already unique in Florida and the southern region, the Orlando Repertory Theatre strives to become a theatre of national and international prominence.