Small-Town Theaters Worth the Trip

Posted August 16, 2018

Hill Theatre Experience

By Elisabeth Vincentelli, The Wall Street Journal | August 16, 2018

DINNER and a show? How predictable. Instead, how about a road trip and a show? Or kayaking and a show? Big cities don’t have a monopoly on quality theater productions. Several venues across the country stage laudable plays and musicals in sweet small towns surrounded by showstopping scenery, with many performances lasting into the fall. Here, a selection of theaters and theater companies well worth the trip.

Spring Green, Wis.

The setting of American Players Theatre (APT), officially part of the village of Spring Green, is relentlessly idyllic, on 110 acres in the bucolic Wisconsin River Valley. The nearest city, Madison, is 40 miles away, and Milwaukee is 2½ hours away. APT’s season runs from June to November, and national theater critics regularly crow about the theater’s programming and staging. Classics, in particular, are treated with great care. Fans of George Bernard Shaw should keep an eye out for his “Heartbreak House” (through Oct. 5) as well as John Morogiello’s rom-com “Engaging Shaw,” based on the esteemed playwright’s bachelor days (Oct. 25-Nov. 18). Curiously, tiny Spring Green (pop. 1,700) boasts another cultural claim to fame: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin estate is within walking distance from the theater. You’ll find another impressive landmark, this one nature-made, a 30-minute drive away: the Cave of the Mounds, a limestone cavern, is open for guided tours.

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