In the late 1990s, a group of people from the Sturgeon Bay arts, business and civic communities rallied to preserve the shuttered Donna movie theatre by converting it into an arts center for live performances. Early champions of the project included respected members of the arts community like Fred Alley (American Folklore Theatre), Paul Sills (Second City & Story Theater) and Todd Schmidt and Bob Thompson (Peninsula Players Theatre), who agreed that TAP would be a welcome addition to Door County’s vibrant arts scene.
In October 2000, Third Avenue Playhouse opened its doors under the direction of Amy McKenzie and James Kaplan. The first presentation was American Folklore Theatre’s production of Guys on Ice. Their successor Terry Lundahl presented Janis Ian, Melanie, the Siegel Schwall Band and The Vagina Monologues. Under Judy Drew’s direction, TAP inaugurated For Kids By Kids theatre camp and hosted the popular Door County Bluegrass Camp featuring local and national musicians alike.
TAP’s current directors Robert Boles and James Valcq arrived in October 2011 and spearheaded a campaign to make one of TAP’s longtime dreams become a reality: the construction of a Studio Theatre space in a former storage area. This 84-seat theatre opened in June 2012 and is home to Stage Door Theatre Company, Door County’s newest professional troupe, offering “intimate plays in an intimate setting.”
TAP is also committed to providing theatre education and performance opportunities for the Door community by offering classes, workshops, and productions by StageKids Theatre. Concert offerings have included musicians Ronnie Cox and Michael Johnson and political satirist Will Durst. TAP has also entered into partnerships with over a dozen local Nonprofits to raise awareness and funds through a series of concerts showcasing an array of Door County’s finest musicians.
TAP is a proud member of Arts Wisconsin, the Peninsula Arts & Humanities Alliance, the Door County Nonprofit Group, and Theatre Wisconsin. In 2005, TAP received the Door County Visitor Bureau’s Pride in Place award.
The TAP Mission
Third Avenue Playhouse (TAP), a charitable nonprofit organization seeks to provide a high quality, year-round community arts center in Door County that is a permanent home for educational and community theatre, music and dance groups, and is available to schools, businesses and organizations. Events will include occasional professional entertainment and films.
TAP’s primary focus is to inspire both youth and adult cultural awareness through workshops, classes and performance opportunities before a live audience.