About PlayTime Productions
As one of Wisconsin’s only all-children theatre companies, PlayTime Productions provides a unique experiential learning opportunity for youth aged 8-18. Each production features a cast of approximately 25 children. For many youth, PlayTime Productions provides their first experience as part of a theatrical ensemble. Since its humble beginnings in a park in 1979, nearly 1500 children have participated in more than 60 original productions learning valuable life lessons both onstage and off that shape and strengthen their futures, self esteem, and friendships.
Each year PlayTime Productions shares the magic of theatre with about 4,000 young children and families from throughout the Dane County area as the only local traveling theatre company of its kind. With about 16 community shows for each production, this vibrant and affordable theatre program makes the arts accessible to all by keeping admissions low. Many performances are free to the community. PlayTime Productions promotes a greater awareness and appreciation of the arts, inspiring audiences of all ages.
Under the lights on an open stage the magic of theatre makes everything possible. Keep the magic alive for the thousands of children and families who look forward to and enjoy PlayTime Productions’ wonderful performances each year. Your support enables PlayTime Productions to make this exceptional theatre accessible to children and families on-stage and off. Your contributions are integral in keeping the cost of tuition and admission low and providing scholarships so every child can share in the magic of this educational experience for many years to come.
“I remember the plays I saw when I was growing up… nothing compared to what happened in a dark theater with the music, lights, and real actors. Everyone needs a little magic in their lives.”
founder of PlayTime Productions
Kathy Van Abel
Social Media & Marketing
Amy Mertz/Brick Road PR
Board of Directors
Kathy Van Abel
Dan Van Abel
Samara Kalk Derby
Renaye’s History with PlayTime
Board Members Emeriti
David R. Johnsen
Mari Anne Lichtfeld
Play Time 2020 Staff & Board
The Storybook Chronicle of PlayTime
Once upon a time, long ago, near a lake at the edge of an isthmus, a group of neighborhood children knocked on a door. When it creaked open, a young girl summoned her courage and stammered, “Hello, we want to put on a play in the park and they said we need a grown up to do it, will you help us?” The kindly woman behind the door, whose name was Teddy and knew a few things about acting, smiled and agreed that she would be their grown up.
Sheltered amongst several huge pine trees, a flat grassy area became a stage filled with children in costumes relating an age-old fairy tale to an audience of neighbors, friends, and families. It filled the people with such rewarding sensations like tears and laughter that all decided it must happen again.
So, the next summer and the next one after that, and the following summer after that, the same kindly woman continued to write and direct plays. The only thing that changed each year was that the children had started to grow up, but as they did, younger eager faces filled their boots and crowns beneath the pines. There were so many in fact that suddenly a play was needed and created for almost every season in the year.
The pines still hosted the summer drama, but when the weather turned rainy, snowy, and cold, another stage housed the acting troupe roofed by the volumes and volumes of stories in books at the nearby library. Soon word spread about the childhood classics brought to life by children and the troupe traveled to surrounding communities to share the magic they had created with countless others.
After more than a quarter of a century had passed, hundreds of children had performed in thousands of roles for tens of thousands of audience members.
Now, as you know, in the land of make believe all of this wonderful magic seems to happen for free, but as most of us must learn as we grow up, money for the costumes and the set paint and the piano was not found growing on the trees in the park.
Some years after the first play in the park in 1979, some kindly business people helped to transform the Park Players into a bonified non-profit children’s theatre named PlayTime Productions. Since 1986 PlayTime continued to grow as a corporation successfully striving to pay for space, some staff members, and the other necessities of running a business. But as each fiscal turn of the season finds another supply of eager faces waiting to perform for audiences–another annual search must be launched for funding.