BRIGHT LIGHTS, SMALL CITY: Ashland theatre celebrating 50 years

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:12 PM CDT
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ASHLAND, WI. (KBJR 6) -- A volunteer-run theater company has been bringing arts and education to the stage for more than 5 decades.

“I’m just amazed when I look at this little theater, which has 96 seats, at the vision that our founders had,” said Deb Ellefson, president of the Chequamegon Theatre Association.

CTA was founded in 1972, now, fifty years later, Ellefson said they’re celebrating how art has impacted the Northwest Wisconsin community.

“There’s nothing, as you know, like live theatre,” Ellefson said. “And I think we have enriched our community so much.”

CTA is Wisconsin’s longest-running non-profit theater, and spent it’s first 10 or so years performing in local venues around Ashland.

In the 1980s, they moved into their current space, the Rinehart Theatre.

CTA now does four productions a year, as well as a summer theatre kid’s program.

For that summer program, CTA partners with Prairie Fire Children’s Theatre, a company that brings original versions of classic stories, like Beauty and the Beast, to communities.

Two professional actors spend a week directing children, before mounting three performances.

“I started out at CTA as an actor as a kid, one of the shows I really remember doing in a really fun way was the Wizard of Oz-I was Dorothy!” said board member Abby Miller.

She said getting kids involved in theatre is important.

“It will have such a long-lasting effect on children. Relationships built, personal confidence, personal development improved,” Miller said. “So I just think it’s absolutely wonderful that we’re doing children’s theatre.”

Whether performing onstage or helping out backstage, CTA leaders said the theatre is a safe, encouraging space.

“I think theatre welcomes everyone, you know, of all challenges, abilities, there’s a place for you here,” Ellefson said.

CTA’s children’s theatre performances of Beauty and the Beast run Friday and Saturday.

In September, the theatre will host a 50th-anniversary celebration.

For more information, click here.

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