Theatre Coppell was founded in 1987 by a group of like-minded individuals, the nonprofit’s Artistic Director Janis Arthur said.

“We did it for the same reason everybody starts a community theater. We thought we would be good at it; we liked to do it, and it would be good for the community,” Arthur said. Arthur’s brother, Wheelice Wilson Jr. was a founding member, original artistic director and a theater teacher at Coppell High School—a position he held for 36 years. He was the artistic director until he died in February. Arthur said Wilson directed 99% of the theater’s shows. Arthur, a Coppell High School almuna, has worked with props and costumes, and been an assistant director, stage manager and performer. She said most recently she has played the roles of Daisy in “Driving Miss Daisy” and Ethel in “On Golden Pond.” “I’ve about gone through all the old lady [roles],” Arthur said. “In my younger days, I was Lucy in ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.’ I’ve had a lot of fun parts; it’s been neat to get to do that.”

Directors hold open auditions for each play or musical. They produce five plays and one musical each year. Arthur said their performers’ ages and theater experience level is diverse.Their first show was performed at Coppell High School in 1988. In 1999, they were housed in a firehouse converted to be the Coppell Center for the Arts. In 2020, the Coppell Arts Center was built where Theatre Coppell calls home.

“The reason we’ve been so successful is we’ve had the stability of one director and had the huge financial support from the city,” Arthur said. “Other theaters have to scrap. Because we didn’t have to pay rent to perform ... we have the money to put into the productions.”

Theatre Coppell

Coppell Arts Center at 505 Travis St., Coppell