elcome to Machickanee Players
It wasn’t until the 1987-88 season that we acquired our current home—the Park Avenue Playhouse—at 408 Park Ave., Oconto. Originally the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church hall, the Playhouse was built in 1866, and is currently on the National Register of Historic Buildings. That summer, we busied ourselves painting the building—inside and out—installing lighting and a sound system, and renovating the stage area of the old church hall. However, the old building lacked proper insulation, so winter plays continued to be held at the high school’s John B. LeMay Auditorium until the 1995 season.
Although our stage, and our group, are both small, we are not afraid to take on new challenges. In our 1997-98 season, attendance records were set when ‘Nunsense’ became our first musical. There were several other musicals in the seasons to follow, as well as evenings of one-act plays, children’s productions, and a half dozen original plays written and directed by local playwright Kathy Campshure. Typically, we present three plays per season, and offer both dinner and non-dinner productions. When the congregation of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church still met (sadly, the old stone church was condemned and razed twenty years ago), the theater-going patrons were treated to a home-made meal prepared by the ladies of St. Mark’s. Today, the tradition of a quality meal continues with food catered in by local restaurants. For the past few seasons, we have also added two dessert shows to each production. Patrons who attend these plays are treated to award-winning pies made by OJ’s Midtown Restaurant, which is located in Gillett. Like most small, nonprofit theater groups, we survive on revenue from productions, and donations from generous patrons/organizations. We are currently faced with the challenge of updating our aging light and sound systems, and tackling some major restoration projects on the Park Avenue Playhouse. We are looking to paint the roof, replace the gutters and downspouts, and the old hall’s 12 ft. high windows are showing their age of 140+ years. To meet the challenge of replacing them, we are actively searching for grants to fund the task of locating and hiring a company to custom-build the replacement windows, thus maintaining the building's historic charm