Eye on KELOLAND: Shining a light on community theatre


YANKTON, S.D. (KELO) – The topic of theatre has been making headlines for the past year- with the Sioux Falls State Theatre announcing it’s opening soon after receiving new funding.

But it’s not the only historic venue in the state. The Dakota Theatre in Yankton has been around for more than 100 years and has been an iconic landmark in the southeast KELOLAND community.

The building has been a landmark in downtown Yankton since 1902.

While it has had a few name changes and over the years, The Dakota Theatre is home to the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company.

“Our main objective is community theatre, we do 5 to 6 live local shows every year, usually one to two are children only shows and we do one big summer musical, we do a Christmas show,” president Lewis and Clark Theatre Company, Michael Schumacher said.

Michael Schumacher is the president of the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company. The facility itself has been an opera house, movie theatre, and now community theatre.

“Through the 80s it closed down for awhile,” Schumacher said. “Then a few years later the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company took it over, renovated it, changed things around, and brought their community theatre playhouse here.”

Since taking over, there have been countless plays. The casts even sign walls of the dressing rooms for each show performed.

Tara Leonard has been involved with the theatre since about 2002. Recently, she has been directing the latest show “On Golden Pond.”

“It is a great classic play, a wonderful cast, there is only 6, and we’ve been a very close group that has worked very hard during a short period of time,” play director, Tara Leonard said.

Leonard and Schumacher both encourage others to get involved – Whether that’s auditioning for a show or even coming to see one.

“Just take a first step to walk in the theatre, support the community, support the people that are taking the time out of their busy schedules to do something, and you will be amazed,” Leonard said.

“We are trying to bring people in all the time because we figure once somebody comes in for something they are more likely to keep an eye out for other things that we have,” Schumacher said.

To attract even more people, the group has started bringing in other events including movies and concerts.

“We want to be a place where people look to see what’s going on this week or this month at the Dakota Theatre,” Schumacher said.

A historic venue taking center stage in the Yankton community.

“This building is very iconic to the Yankton community, and we really want to be able to keep theatre alive and be able to showcase the talented people in Yankton,” Leonard said.

If you would like to know more about upcoming events, we’ve provided a link to the Lewis and Clark Theatre Company website here.

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