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Local theatre gives community a glimpse of backstage magic

LA CROSSE, Wis. - The La Crosse Community Theater is relishing its last days on Fifth Avenue before moving into its brand new home along the river.

The La Crosse Community Theatre has been a staple in our community for nearly five decades.

While some long-time theatergoers and volunteers are sad to say good-bye to something so familiar, they say it's also an exciting move to a new beginning.


For decades, seeing shows at the La Crosse Community Theatre has always been a treat for Carol Parker.

"The enjoyment of it, the relaxing [atmosphere], [and] being able to get away and just being in a theater," said Parker.

But for decades, she's only sat in the many rows of seats as an audience member, always seeing what happens on stage, not what happens behind it.

"You sit here and it's all done and taken care of," said Parker about watching shows. "Now you see behind the scenes. There you can say, ‘magical' because then you see what all happens."

She's one of about 15 people on tour at the theater getting a behind the scenes look at just how the magic happens.

The tour includes everything from the backstage lights, to the props and where the idea for a set gets built into reality.

Also along for the tour is Parker's longtime friend Sharon Makee, a devoted volunteer at the theater who has spent more than 40 years doing just about everything to help make the backstage magic come to life.

"I've done everything from working on costumes, to painting the sets, to doing the costumes for a particular play [and] I've acted," said Makee. "It's with mixed emotions, I think, walking out of here and walking into the new one."

The tours are a part of the theater's final celebration before it closes its doors for good at the end of the year.

In January the new La Crosse Performing Arts Center is set to open, and while that will be the start of a new journey, the theater's executive director, David Kilpatrick said it will be a journey inspired by the past.

"What you're doing is your looking at your roots," said Kilpatrick. "You're looking at your foundation, you're looking at what you're made of and what has brought you to this point. So you kind of want to take a little bit of a look and say, ‘hey let's remember these people and let's remember this world' as we then jump into the new world with all of its own challenges and all of its own excitement."

The new La Crosse Performing Arts Center is on track to open on time in mid-January.

The Cavalier Lounge next door has purchased the existing theater and plans to use it as a performing arts venue.

There are still five more opportunities to take a tour through the La Crosse Community Theatre.

They are free and open to the public, but reservations are required.

For more information head to the theatre's website www.lacrossecommunitytheatre.org

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