The Actors' Attic

The Actors' Attic is a non-profit organization under the artistic direction of SAG-AFTRA member MaryBeth Babcock, which seeks to provide educational and artistic opportunities for both students and adults, based in Columbia, Illinois, and serving the metro-east St. Louis area. We are known for the Columbia RepFest, our June "Musical-in-a-Week" camps, Improv Nights. We believe in giving back to our community whenever we can.

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Address: 221 S. Metter Ave
Columbia, IL 62236
Phone Number: 618-719-1264

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to be an actor. After my childhood in St. Louis, where I attended St. Dominic Savio grade school and Bishop DuBourg high school, I earned my bachelor's degree in theatre arts from Southern Illinois University, and then got down to work in summer stock and as a member of an improv comedy team touring the East Coast and Midwest.

Eventually, my dreams called me to Los Angeles, where I lived for 15 years and worked on stage, television, and film. I am still a card-carrying member SAG-AFTRA.
In LA, I found a passion for bringing theatre education to young people. I taught throughout the LA school district, and more importantly spent many years developing the musical theatre program at St. Bridget of Sweden, a Catholic grade school in a diverse neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley. I was inspired and empowered by what the students brought to the stage.

When my family decided to return to the St. Louis area, we settled in Columbia, and my husband Steve and I quickly enrolled our sons, Henry and Mason, at Immaculate Conception School. Less than a year later, I was producing a community-wide musical, "The Music Man," thanks to the Dorothy Weinel Eppinger Foundation, and subsequently working at ICS producing its very first musical, "Annie."

I now serve the community as the Artistic Director for The Columbia Theatre Project, and as founding director of its non-profit partner, The Actors' Attic, and serve as drama teacher/advisor for four local schools: Immaculate Conception School in Columbia, Columbia High School, Columbia Middle School, and Gibault Catholic High School in Waterloo, Ill.

The Actors' Attic holds three "Musical-in-a-Week" summer daycamps each June, for students in elementary, junior high, and high school, and offers internships for high school and college students. In addition, The Actors' Attic produces the Columbia Repertory Festival, which features between three and five separate productions within a season, including musicals, comedies and dramas. The Actors' Attic also includes improvisation lessons and Improv Night occasionally throughout the year, and often in conjunction with another non-profit to fund service projects.


With the exception of local sports, nothing brings a community together quite like the arts. People of different faiths, educational preferences, and neighborhoods come together as Columbians to share their talents for a common cause. And because it's flat out fun!

Gillan Graphics, in conjunction with The Actors' Attic, has embarked on an artistic venture as a gift to the city that we call home. Gillan Graphics has taken on the renovation of the historic Weinel Lumber compound, and plans to open a regional theater on Main Street right behind the beautifully repurposed Gillan's Graphics retail establishment. This theatre will seat 120-150, and may be used for theatrical productions, musical revues, and even film presentations. We hope to grow the opportunities for local talents to come together to bring the magic of theatre and the arts to our community on a regular basis.

The Columbia Theatre Project has already secured a strong commitment of time and energy from more than 100 Columbia residents, approximately 15 families from outside the Columbia area, and professional commitments from individuals and companies to provide monetary donations, gifts of time and talent, and resources. To date we have:
 Received the needed zoning approval from the City of Columbia.
 Raised $11,400 in individual contributions through our "100 Launchers Campaign".
 Worked more than 300 volunteer man-hours in initial clean-up of the property.
 Secured the services of licensed architect Brad Oberkfell, principal, Columbia Design Solutions, at less than half of his usual hourly rate.
 Secured the services of a general contractor and professionals needed for the first phase of construction.
 Secured the support of leading educators in the area, including members of Columbia Community School District #4, Immaculate Conception, and St. Paul UCC.
 Created a strategy for general patronage to manage annual operational expenses, with the goal of funding a long-term endowment.

To make this dream a reality, we need some serious corporate sponsorship, and we have many areas in our new theatre that need "names". We invite you to be a part of "the next big thing" in Monroe County, and something that will become the pride and delight of future generations.
What just a few of the alumni of the Actors' Attic Musical-in-a-Week summer camps are doing this year:

Hannah Lundy Connell is based in New Jersey and is pursuing a career in musical theatre.

Mark E. Young was named "Outstanding Film Production Student" at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, where he is pursuing a double major in Cinema and Theatre.

Emily Brutton received a dual degree in English Education and Drama from University of Illinois, and is now teaching in Monroe County.

Jessi Brutton, a recent graduate the University of Illinois, recently won a national scriptwriting competition.

Sarah Lantsberger is pursuing a degree in musical performance at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville.

Taylor Marie Smith is a sophomore at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, and has been cast in three shows in her first year.

Claire Ryterski, a sophomore at Western Illinois University, is majoring in music therapy, and sings opera in her spare time, and writes music in her other spare time.