In the early 1960s, Al Reis, owner of Reis Art Gallery and School, and Jay Anderson, one of his instructors, created the piece of sculpture known as the Harlequin Man.
The unique structure — 7.5 feet tall — was presented to FSLT and stood at the entrance to the group’s first theatre building at 3800 North “O” Street.
According to a newspaper article dated April 29, 1962, “most of the stained glass in the statue came from torn-down churches. The Harlequin Man design was chosen because of its importance in the early theatre of Europe. The Harlequin was traditionally a figure characterized by a shaved head and parti-colored tights in medieval Italian comedy. The Little Theatre Harlequin has a right hand extended ‘in a gesture offering entertainment to the world.’”
In 1986, FSLT moved to our present location at 401 North 6th Street. By that time, the elements had taken their toll; much of the glass was missing. Over the years the statue had become a symbol of FSLT and one the theatre did not want to give up. One of the FSLT patrons, Louis Robinson, cleaned it, stabilized its frame and repainted it before it was placed in the new lobby.
In 1994, thanks to the generosity of the late Mickey Suggs, glass was replaced and the structure refurbished.
In 2013, the Harlequin Man underwent a facelift sponsored by Paula and Steve Sharum. Following repairs made by Bob Wright Stained Glass, the Harlequin Man was then moved to a place of honor as part of our lobby renovation. Positioned on a raised platform in our center window, the colorful Harlequin Man is now prominently displayed on his own private “stage” for all patrons to enjoy.
In 2022, as part of FSLT’s 75th Anniversary Celebration, three generations of descendants of Al Reis traveled from Hot Springs and Sherwood, Arkansas to attend a performance of “Annie” and see the structure for themselves. It was an honor to welcome our special guests and share with them, our treasured Harlequin Man.