Frequently Asked Questions
What is American Folklore Theatre?
American Folklore Theatre is a non-profit (501c3) professional theatre company. AFT's mission is to create, develop, and present professional musical and dramatic productions which will further the knowledge and appreciation of the culture and heritage of the United States. We create all original musical shows – everything you see on our stage has been created for AFT and has been performed on our stage before it has been seen anywhere else.
What is the history of AFT? How long has it been around?
The story of American Folklore Theatre begins with a group called “The Heritage Ensemble.” This group was created by Dave Peterson, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who assembled the group after discovering a pine-rimmed theatre while camping at Peninsula State Park. The Heritage Ensemble would go on to perform on the Peninsula State Park stage for the next 20 years. During these 20 years, the troupe produced and performed original concerts and reviews covering many aspects of Midwestern folklore.
In 1990, Fred Alley, Fred Heide and Gerald Pelrine, long-time members of The Heritage Ensemble morphed into American Folklore Theatre with the emphasis on the creation and production of book musicals as well as concerts. The group’s name was changed to American Folklore Theatre to broaden its scope while still depicting its roots in the traditions of populist culture. This year marks the 18th anniversary of American Folklore Theatre.
Is AFT a professional theatre company?
Absolutely. Many of our performers are members of the Actors Equity Association – a labor union that represents over 45,000 actors and stage managers working across the United States. AFT conducts professional auditions in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Wisconsin and company members now perform regularly on and off-Broadway and at major regional theatres throughout the country.
Where do American Folklore Theatre performances take place?
During our summer season, we perform outdoors on AFT's stage at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek, WI. The amphitheater is not covered – we perform under a canopy of stars. Seating at the amphitheater consists of sturdy wooden benches with backs, and seat cushions are available for rental. During the fall season, AFT heads indoors to perform at Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek and/or the Historic Ephraim Village Hall in Ephraim, WI.
Do I need a State Park Sticker to get into the park for an AFT performance?
It is not necessary to have a State Park sticker to enter the park to see an AFT performance. This exemption is applicable up to one hour prior to performance. If you plan to spend extra time in the park prior to showtime, day park passes run $7 for WI state residents, $10 for non-residents.
Is the theatre difficult to get to?
The amphitheater is located in Peninsula State Park. Peninsula State Park has two entrances – the Fish Creek entrance and the Ephraim entrance. There will be many signs directing you to the amphitheater from both entrances. The parking lot for the Theatre is actually the overflow parking lot for Nicolet Beach. Once you are parked in the lot, it’s only about a three or four minute walk to the amphitheater. Driving Directions…
Is handicap access and accommodation available?
Handicapped parking and seating is available. Handicapped signs at amphitheater entrance indicate designated parking area. To reserve a backstage handicapped parking spot, please contact the AFT office during business hours prior to the show to reserve space. Seating is limited.
AFT also provides golf cart transportation from the parking lot to the amphitheater for our patrons who have difficulty walking the distance. Service is available starting 35 minutes prior to showtime, up to 10 minutes prior to showtime. Please meet at the park bench next to the parking lot steps.
Sound enhancement devices are available at the Concession Stand to assist hearing impaired individuals. They can be checked out by leaving your driver’s license with staff.
The Door Community Auditorium is located next to Gibraltar Schools on Highway 42 in Fish Creek. The auditorium is a state of the art comfortable and climate-controlled environment. Handicapped parking and seating is available. Handicapped signs at main entrance near the auditorium indicate designated parking area. Loge seating is accessible for wheelchairs.
The Historic Ephraim Village Hall is located on Highway 42 in Ephraim, across from the waterfront. The hall is a large stone building with the Ephraim Public Library on the lower level and Chef’s Hat Café restaurant on the other side of the building. Parking in Ephraim is mostly on-street parking. In case of a tour bus, a call to the AFT Office is appreciated so we may plan for the bus in advance. As far as handicap access, there is a handicap lift at the back of the village hall, and handicap seating in the hall has traditionally been in the front row. If you have a disabled person in your party, please call the AFT Office so we can plan accordingly.
The Old Gibraltar Town Hall is located in downtown Fish Creek near the waterfront. Parking is mostly on-street parking. In case of a tour bus, a call to the AFT Office is appreciated so we may plan for the bus in advance. The theatre is handicap accessible - if a member or your party needs special seating, please call the AFT Office so we can plan accordingly.
Are dogs allowed at the shows?
Yes; we do allow well-behaved dogs on leashes to attend with their family at our Summer State Park Amphitheater Shows Only. We do ask that your party sits on an aisle off the the right or left side and closer to the back in case your furry friend starts "singing along" with the show and you need to make a quick exit so as not to disturb the other patrons.
Unfortunately, we cannot allow dogs at the Door Community Auditorium nor in our town hall venues unless they are leader dogs.
The show will go on if at all possible. AFT will not cancel a show until show time, or even a bit after if the weather appears to be passing. If cancelled, and the show is less than half over, you will have the option of either a refund application or a rain check, which is good for any future AFT performance without expiration. If a show is more than half over when interrupted, patrons will be issued rain checks only. If you choose not to attend, and the show goes on as scheduled, there are no refunds or exchanges.
Is there anything else that I might need to know about American Folklore Theatre shows?
All AFT shows are appropriate for all ages. The shows range in length from one to one and a half hours. Summer shows are all one-act shows with no intermission. Fall shows may have an intermission. Our concession stand at the park is filled with AFT apparel, recordings, and other great items – all ready to purchase to take home with you!
We do offer refreshments for sale at all our summer shows. Inside the amphitheater, you can enjoy your munchies while the performance is happening. You can bring drinks and food with you or purchase them at the Concession Booth. However, alcoholic beverages are not allowed in or around the amphitheater, and we ask that you please be mindful of noise, unwrapping all items before the performance begins.
Is there any special information I need to know if I am bringing a group to the AFT Park Amphitheater or the Fall Venues?
If you have paid in advance, your group will already have your tickets – we mail out tickets if we have enough time to do so. Please be sure to arrive 30 minutes before show time in order to be seated. You will need to wait in line with your tickets, and please make sure that everyone has a ticket in hand. When you get to the usher who is taking tickets, identify the name of your group and tell him or her that you have group reserved seating. He or she will point you in the direction of the seating usher, who will seat you accordingly. That’s all you have to do – other than sit back, relax, and enjoy the show, of course!