A local community theatre at Laura Bradley Park in Peoria is putting on plays and musicals for audiences across the area, and they are doing it under a big top. Less than a mile from campus, Corn Stock Theatre has been inviting people to experience the theatre arts since its humble beginnings in 1954.
According to their website, Corn Stock Theatre is Peoria’s only outdoor community theatre where shows are presented under a big top style tent.
“It’s an experience,” said box office manager Josh Hammond. “The food vendors, the relaxing atmosphere of the park, and the top-notch productions make it special.”
The first-ever performance took place in Detweiler Park on July 27, 1954. Then, after forming a relationship with the Park District, the theatre moved to Laura Bradley Park in 1955.
Since then, the theatre attracts a lot of talent and volunteer opportunities, specifically attracting Bradley students.
“Different organizations through Bradley have helped,” Hammond said. “[On] September 8 and 9 a Bradley organization is moving our outdoor supplies into our indoor facility.”
In fact, countless Bradley students have participated at the Corn Stock Theatre over the years, through both volunteering and acting on stage.
“[Peoria is] a big town for community theatre,” Scott Kanoff said, Chairperson of the Theatre Arts at Bradley. “Peoria was considered on the touring circuit during vaudeville to be one of the most typical American cities.”
It is a popular theatre in the community, attracting a devoted fanbase in Peoria. Kanoff explained why he believes Corn Stock draws so many from the area.
The theatre hosts edgier, more adult toned shows during the winter season. They tend to be risky, push- ing performances and material in a thought provoking and mature way.
“Their winter season is more artistically adventurous,” Hammond said.
On their website, anyone can sign up for auditions or work behind the scenes as stage crew. Volunteers and performers gain a lot of positive experiences in the theatre.
“A lot of friendships are formed, it’s like a family,” Hammond said.
Right now, Corn Stock Theatre is wrapping up their summer season with “Camelot” (Aug. 24-Sept. 1) and
the Corn Stock for Kids production of “Good News” (Sept. 28-Oct. 7). Student ticket prices will be available with a Bradley I.D. Tickets for the upcoming winter 2018-19 season will be on sale soon.
The Corn Stock Theatre is located in Laura Bradley Park at 1700 North Park Road.