Our History

Our History

The NSU River City Players began at Northeastern State University in 1983 with its first season.  In 1995 the cast of Downtown Country was added to the bill. Around the year 2000, the two casts joined marketing and box office efforts to combine as one series known as the Stars in the Summer. In 2013 the cast returned to the name River City Players, still performs the rhythms of old time rock-n-roll and pop, and the boot scootin' sounds of country music audiences have been enjoying at NSU for over 30 years!

The 2015 River City Players Series runs June 11 through August 1.

River City Players History

Capitalizing on the talent of the university’s students, the gifted faculty, and the abundance of Tahlequah tourists during the summer months, the River City Players (formerly known as the University Players) hosted their first season in 1983. C.H. Parker, now-retired Northeastern State University instructor of speech and theater, and the late Joe Davis, NSU jazz studies director, created the script for the River City Players’ first production, Ferlin’s Folly or Dolly Goes to Dixie. Combining the best of popular music, Broadway hits, gospel, and everything in between, River City Players quickly became one of the most popular shows produced by NSU. Now in its 31st season, River City continues to showcase the vocal talents of the university’s students while featuring the musical styling of the institution's faculty. 

Downtown Country History

In 1995, C.H. Parker met Tim Gilliam, a young country and bluegrass musician who had recently returned to Tahlequah from performing in Nashville to pursue a degree in mass communication at Northeastern State University. From that initial meeting sprung the nexus for Downtown Country, the university’s annual Branson-style show showcasing live country music. The first year’s Country Fare evolved into NSU’s Downtown Hoedown, and eventually became known as Downtown Country. Downtown Country has hosted a number of talented artists over the years, including NSU alumnae, 2005 American Idol winner and country music superstar Carrie Underwood. The legacy of Downtown Country is still continued through the country performances of the River City Players.