Crane River Theater
Crane River Theater's mission is to serve the community of Kearney and surrounding areas as a professional theater production company providing a home for the presentation, education and promotion of the arts. Crane River Theater provides the unique quality of using professionals from across the country to create innovative productions for all ages.
PO Box 2141
Kearney, NE 68848
Crane River Theater is established around the belief that lifting up the arts will only help in creating a richer and more vibrant community. We are proud to collaborate with a number of community organizations in an effort to expose as many people as possible to the joy of the arts. We hope to build on the momentum that the community has already shown towards the arts, thus allowing Central Nebraska to become a destination for theater, music and dance.
Crane River Theater produces a mainstream musical, contemporary play and outdoor family production each summer at various venues throughout the community, as well as a concert production in the spring in collaboration with the Kearney Symphony Orchestra and a destination production in the fall. Kearney has a wealth of quality performance spaces, and we hope to fill those stages with exciting and engaging theater. Our family production is held at the Cope Amphitheater located in Yanney Heritage Park, produced in conjunction with Kearney Park and Recreation. As the first theatrical company to utilize the newly renovated amphitheater since its original conception in 2002, we are excited to continue the tradition of open-air family theater. Thousands of audience members have already taken advantage of this production the last seven summers and it continues to grow making it the largest annual arts event in our area. Admission is minimal so as to allow everyone an opportunity to enjoy the performances. Our mainstream musical is hosted at the Merryman Performing Arts Center, a state of the art facility that is currently dark during the summer months. We are proud to collaborate with the University of Nebraska at Kearney Theatre for our play series to be presented at the Miriam Drake Theatre. Our concert series is presented at the University of Nebraska-Kearney Fine Arts Recital Hall and our destination series can be found at different venues each year that uniquely fit the production. We are excited to bring high quality productions for the whole family to the Kearney community, thereby exposing many new faces to live, professional theater. So far, more than 106,000 audience members have witnessed a Crane River Theater production, and we are excited to continue growing that number in the future.
Encouraging the creativity of our youth is essential. Crane River Theater is committed to arts education. Every summer we offer our widely popular Explore Theater classes made possible by our partnerships with Kearney Park and Recreation and the Kearney Area Children's Museum. In just nine years, these classes have reached more than 3,000 kids ranging kindergarten through middle school providing them a hands-on theater experience. The classes have been extremely well received and they continue to grow every year. In an effort to raise awareness and excitement toward the arts among high school students, we are pleased to offer a series of Backstage Workshops. This program allows high school students from across the state to receive a backstage look at a professional production and take part in a series of theatrical workshops. More than 850 students and faculty from 30 schools have already participated in classes that range from Acting and Dance, to Video Production and Stage Combat. Regional artists and faculty from the University of Nebraska, Nebraska Wesleyan, Doane College and Central Missouri University teach the specialized workshops. The chance for a promising student to actually work with and learn from a professional in their field is otherwise not available in Kearney, so we are honored to provide that opportunity. Last but not least, Crane River Theater is once again excited to offer our Page to Stage workshop to libraries across Central Nebraska for their Summer Reading Programs. Last year we presented workshops to nearly 1,500 kids in eight communities, and we plan to expand that even further in the coming years. Allowing children the opportunity to see the characters jump from the page to the stage and the words come to life before their very own eyes is truly invaluable.