In the 608: ‘Lights up’ once again at Janesville Little Theatre

JANESVILLE, Wis. – The Janesville Little Theatre is known for being Wisconsin’s oldest community theatre group. Even cooler, they’re one of the three oldest in the entire country.

We had the chance to stop by their space at the Janesville Performing Arts Center, which is finally looking livelier for the first time since early 2020. They are super excited about the first live shows since theatre productions stopped due to COVID-19 last year.

Like many non-profit small organizations, the theatre community was hit especially hard without the ability to have shows.

The VP of the Janesville Little Theatre Board, Steve Shaw, can’t thank the community enough for helping them through the tough times.

“We’re in our 93rd season, and we’re pretty proud of that. There are very few theatres that are in existence today that can say they’ve been around for 93 years, and they’re not in New York,” explained Shaw. “That was all due to the people in Janesville wanting to have better entertainment and being creative and wanting to do things in our own community with our own talent, and we have an incredible amount of talent in Rock County, in Janesville and all of southern Wisconsin.”

Earlier this year, the theatre group had to get extra creative to continue to hold their status of one of the oldest community theatre groups. They put together a virtual show, as a fundraiser of sorts, to keep the lights on, both literally and figuratively.

The cast and crew of “Steel Magnolias” debuted their first show of the 2021-22 season over the weekend and are back again this week.

It features an all-female cast set in a popular Louisiana beauty salon, where ladies from an upper-crust social scene go to have their hair done.

Shaw tells News 3 Now it draws on strength and love, which seems pretty fitting after the last year and a half.

“We turned off our power and light because we couldn’t afford to keep playing that bill every month, so we had a real struggle, but we hung on and we’re really happy to be here now and we’re really happy to do this production,” Shaw added. “I think it’s going to be a wonderful production. I have a great cast, so I’m very happy to be here.”

Tickets are now on sale online. They have more showings this weekend, happening Friday through Sunday.