Community theatre in the Peoria area has been a vital part of the performing arts locally for decades. The oldest downstate theatre in Illinois, Peoria Players, celebrated its 100th season in 2019. And Corn Stock Theatre, the area’s only in-the-round theatre, has been presenting shows for over 65 years. Newer to the scene at 27 years old is Eastlight Theatre. And the semi-professional dinner theatre, Barn III, opened originally 45 years ago, and has undergone two newer versions of itself with the latest one premiering in 2019. The barn was destroyed in a tornado in 2015.
All have been affected by the COVID pandemic and the resulting limitations for large gatherings, but are gearing up to return in 2021 if possible. Many have produced pre-recorded live streaming shows with smaller casts to keep their audiences engaged. But they all long to be able to get back to business as usual and perform again before a live audience.
Peoria Players, Corn Stock and the Barn III have hosted small events to recover some of their revenue during the pandemic. Eastlight Theatre produced an outdoor production of “Something Rotten” in June of 2020 at the East Peoria Farm Park, but was not able to present any other live shows throughout the remainder of 2020.
Corn Stock Theatre has announced that they will not offer the 2021 season in their outdoor tent. Last year’s season was postponed to 2021. There’s no determination at this time if the titles originally planned for 2020 will be produced now in 2022.