Festival Theatre

Festival Theatre has been providing St. Croix Valley residents in Wisconsin with quality professional theater since 1990. The theater company produces seven plays a season in the rural community, which includes two children's shows. The NEA's Josephine Reed spoke with Festival Theatre's Artistic Director Danette Olsen about the challenges and benefits of running a rural theater company. Read more about the work behind running a rural theater in “Making Art Work: Backstage at Market House Theatre.”
All photos by Eileen Reich unless otherwise indicated.


Audio Tabs


historic photo of the outside of the theater

The theater in 1917. Historical photo courtesy of the St. Croix Falls Historical Society


actress onstage at foot of a staircase, playing a saxophone

Crimes of the Heart by Beth Henley -- directed by Matt Sciple, Valarie Falkan as Babe McGrath, Costume Design by Mary Martin, Set Design and Lighting by Danette Olsen


Christmas morning scene with a father, mother and two children

A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd/adapted for the stage by Phillip Grecian – directed by Danette Olsen, clockwise Randy played by Ben Forsberg, Ralphie played by John Dikkers, the Old Man played by Joe Wiener, and Mother played by Leigha Horton; Costume Design by Mary Martin, Set Design by Tom Johnson and Danette Olsen


contemporary photo of the outside of the theater

Summer photo shows Opening of the Season Annual Garden Party, photo by Melanie Nelson


classroom scene with adult man sitting in child's classroom chair flirting with a woman sitting on a table

Four by Two a Collage of One Act Plays – directed by Patrick O%27Brien, Danette Olsen, Edward Moersfelder, and Jeanette Abdo, performed by Shawn Boyd and Jessica Balts, Costume Design by Justin Swanson, Set & Lighting Design by Danette Olsen, Properties Design by Marilyn Mays


inside the theater, looking out from the stage

Interior photo circa 1995 taken by staff.


two actresses - one holding the sign saying The World According to Lucy Van Pelt sitting next to the other who is  oddly dressed and sucking her thumb

You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown by John Gordon & Clark Gesner – directed by Marilyn Mays, performed by Lisa Bark as Lucy and Christian DeMarais as Linus, Set Design by Jason Smith, Lighting Design by Dane Johnson, Properties by Marilyn Mays, and Costume Design by Mary Sicora


pencil drawing of the front of the theater from the street

Drawing by local artist Meg Luhrs of Luhrs/Bjornson Artworks


two actors, two actresses in a living room scene

Moonlight and Magnolias by Ron Hutchinson – directed by James L. Walker, performed by Al Broeffle as Victor Fleming, Joe Wiener as David O. Selznick, Brittany Engler as Miss Poppenguhl, Jim Halloran as Ben Hecht; Set Design by Derek Miller, Costume Design by Jessica Fillbrandt, Lighting Design by Michael Kittel.


Two actresses as older woman watching an older man drinking a glass of wine at a table covered with a lacy tablecloth. A young man is pointing at the older one as if to stop him from drinking

Arsenic & Old Lace by Joseph Kesselring – directed by Tom Johnson, performed by Meg Merckins as Aunt Abby, Bill Perron as Visitor, Marilyn Mays as Aunt Martha, and Joe Wiener as Mortimer; Scene Design by Tom Johnson, Charge Artist & Lighting Design by Danette Olsen, Costume Design by Mary Martin, Properties Design by Joshua Busick


woman standing on a park bench holding a leash, a man standing beside her on the ground holding the other end.

Sylvia by A.R. Gurney – directed by James L. Walker, shown are Jaclyn Johnson as Sylvia and James L. Walker as Greg, Costume Design by Mary Sicora, Set Design by Rod Sietsema and James L. Walker.


young actors in a cardboard locomotive mock-up with  another shoveling pretend coal into the firebox.

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – a Youth & Family Theatre production directed by Bill Perron, shown are Josh Busick (guest artist) along with youth actors Jasper Herman and Hunter Teasely, Costume Design by Gina Bonin and Lisa Wondra, Scene Design by Danette Olsen & Rod Sietsema