The Murphy Theatre is Clinton County’s destination for arts, entertainment and education. The Murphy is also an economic boost to the community by bringing in audiences from miles around to shop, eat and enjoy downtown Wilmington before and after our shows. We strive to provide the best in live entertainment and events throughout the year, and create a magical experience for everyone who attends.

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Mission Statement: To Preserve The Historic Murphy Theatre as a Place to Enrich, Inspire and Entertain our Community.

The Murphy story began on a warm evening in late July of 1918 when Charles Webb Murphy opened his newly built theatre in his hometown of Wilmington. It was a grand theatre for a small town and its history reflects the ebb and flow of small town America. The theatre acted as the heart of downtown in those early days playing host to vaudeville, lectures, minstrel shows, movies, high school graduations, band concerts, plays and even church services.

In 1929, the theatre was leased to Chakeres Theaters who were making a name for themselves providing audiences the latest in film. They refurbished the theatre, removed some of the seating, covered the marble floor with carpet and installed modern equipment to handle “talkies”. Chakeres Theaters operated a successful movie house through the boom of the film industry until the advent of modern multiple screen theaters.

In 1985, the descendants of Charles Murphy decided to sell the theatre. A local group began the process of saving the theatre by selling stock options to fund the purchase and, in 1989, formed a not-for-profit organization whose purpose was to restore the theatre and ensure its use for years to come.

The Murphy Theatre is still a work in progress as
many volunteers and supporters continue the work of protecting this magnificent building. Structural issues and deterioration of decorative elements are projects included in the Strategic Plan developed by the Board of Trustees. Through the financial and in-kind donations of our community members and businesses, we can address them over time.

The theatre remains a true community center
providing a venue for touring performers, local theater productions, school events, performing arts education, business meetings and weddings. The Murphy Theatre’s mission is to continue to be a source of community pride, an example of perseverance, and an entertainment and cultural center for all.

The Murphy Theatre balcony

The Murphy Theatre

The Murphy Theatre Stage

Our Board of Trustees

  • David Wagenseller, President
  • Cindy Camp, Vice-President
  • Paul Fear, Treasurer
  • Dave Morgan, Past President
  • Cheri Cleaver
  • Jean Black
  • Shari Rolston
  • Rob Stuckert
  • Jennifer Hollon
  • Scott Holmer
  • Laura Gibson
  • Karli Harris
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Our Staff

The staff of the Murphy Theatre brings a wealth of experience from theatre, business, maintenance, procurement, customer service, management, education, and artistic backgrounds. It is their dedication and love of the theatre that makes each and every live show, movie, or special event memorable.

Technical Crew

  • Dave Stewart, Supervisor
  • Joe Spicer, Sound Engineer
  • Dan Kennelly
  • Dan Stewart
  • Marla Stewart
  • May Stewart
Our Non-Profit Status and Financial Information

The Murphy Theatre is a non-profit corporation with its own 501c(3) status. It is governed by a self-elected Board of Trustees which meet monthly on the last Monday of each month. Meetings are open to the public and are held at the Main Street Wilmington office located at 44 W. Main Street, Wilmington, Ohio. The meetings are scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Our Fiscal Year currently runs January through December with the IRS form 990 filed for 2012 as the latest financial data available. Copies of the 990 for the past three years as filed are available below. A copy of the 2012 Auditor’s Compilation is available at the following link: 2012 Auditor’s Compilation