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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Area performance institutions celebrating milestones in 2020


Up to 85 yeards

Celebration image.


Live performances are very fragile.

They are here today, gone tomorrow.

With that in mind, here is a tip of the hat to Northeastern Wisconsin institutions that this year are marking milestones in the test of time.

The first recorded play production in our area was “She Stoops to Conquer” put on around 200 years ago by children and soldiers in the Fort Howard garrison.

That theater troupe – so to speak – quickly moved on.

Moving to the present, seven area organizations are celebrating during 2020 with nice, round numbers. The markers are varied – seasons, anniversary years, years since the start. All signal something lasting.

For Third Avenue Playhouse in Sturgeon Bay, it is 20 years of presenting invigorating professional productions year around.

Civic Symphony of Green Bay started life as a daring act of defiance after a significant number of local musicians found themselves as former Green Bay Symphony Orchestra musicians. Civic Symphony of Green Bay stuck and has survived into its 25th season of keeping alive the music of the ages, and more.

Near Baileys Harbor, Door Shakespeare this year marks 25 years of offering plays of the most famous of all English playwrights, and more. The company offers frisky takes on William Shakespeare in a distinctive outdoor setting under a majestic maple tree in Bjorklunden garden.

In the Green Bay area, Evergreen Productions Young Actors started life 50 years ago as Next Door Theatre. In each season, Evergreen Productions mixes youth into adult plays and adults into youth fare in a continuation of a long ago of “a great society” for America.

North of Fish Creek, Northern Sky Theater has operated in a unique setting of its own for 50 years, following in the path of its forerunners, Heritage Ensemble and American Folklore Theatre. Original musical comedies with a Wisconsin flavor are performed in an amphitheater in Peninsula State Park with tall pine trees growing in and around the stage.

In Green Bay, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Music will present its 50th anniversary Jazz Fest on Jan. 25 featuring high school ensembles from near and far, faculty and local pros and headliner acts from New Orleans.

In Menasha, Attic Chamber Theatre, Inc. did, indeed, start in an attic 70 years ago. The attic was in Appleton.

The company thrives by offering engaging plays and musicals with dedicated casts.

Peninsula Players Theatre this year celebrates 85 years of presenting top-flight professional productions of a wide range.

Thousands have enjoyed performances at the special wooded place on the bay of Green Bay just south of Fish Creek.

These milestones say something – many, many people look to experience artful performances that enhance the quality of living here.

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