The Encore Performing Arts Center and Gallery has been the home of the County Seat Theater Company since 2008. Located at 2035 Hwy 33 south (on the frontage road), the theater seats 135 patrons on raised seating. The Art Gallery located in the back of the theater is an excellent opportunity for local artists to display and sell their work. Each season is packed with plays and concerts. The theater's mission is to provide an opportunity for all individuals of all ages to participate in all aspects of the performing arts, bring quality live theater to the community, and promote the performing arts.
The story of the "Little Theater That Grew," County Seat Theater
In October 1987, a fledgling community theater was a Carlton High School Band Booster fundraiser. It was a unique idea, "Let's put on a play!" After six weeks of rehearsal for Neil Simon's, The Odd Couple, the parking lot was filled, the show opened, and the laughs came. The community and the organizers had a wonderful experience, and the band was closer to buying those new uniforms. "Let's do it again next year and the next!" After three years of being a school project, they decided to form a theater group with its own identity.
The County Seat Theater Company was born. They continued to perform, using the high school facility for 13 years. During those years, the season grew to include Children's Theater, holiday and summer shows, in addition to the established fall production.
As the productions continued to grow, it was time to get out of the school and find a place to call home. They moved to a quaint little church in Atkinson Township. The first production in September 1999 was Steel Magnolias. The audiences came, and came, and came to "hold over" performances.
In January 2008, County Seat Theater purchased the former Kingdom Hall Building on the Hwy 33 frontage road and began major renovations. The location was perfect, the size was great, the condition was excellent. So much work! So much support! The birth of the Encore Performing Arts Center and Gallery, the home of the County Seat Theater Company was complete.
Joel Soukkala, general manager, shared how COVID impacted the theater.
"We brought the productions outside with parking lot variety shows and virtually viewing. Safety of our patrons is incredibly important."
Beer For Breakfast, a comedy by Sean Grennan, September 24-26, 30, and October 3. A group of middle-aged buddies reunites for a "guys weekend" in a snowed-in cabin to eat chili, drink beer, and relive the good old days. Despite divorce, unemployment, and a stroke, spirits are high until Jessie, the wife of absent friend Adrian shows up in his place. An epic battle of wits and stamina ensues: will the men with their right to an all-out guy fest, or will women be crowned the stronger sex after all?
Doublewide, Texas Christmas, a comedy by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope & Jamie Wooten. In this outrageously funny comedy, it's Christmas-time in the newest and tiniest town in Texas. And it's beginning to look a lot like trouble in Doublewide. Not only are the trailer park residents dealing with the stress of the holiday season, they've just discovered that The County is double-crossing Doublewide. With their official incorporation papers in jeopardy, the band of eccentric Texans throws themselves into taking on the "Big Guys." Determined to bolster their legitimacy, they first set their sights on the County-wide "Battle of The Mangers" competition.
County Seat Theater is the only full-season theater in all of Carlton County. People come from all over the state to attend performances. From the first show to the last, the County Seat Theater Company has set a standard of high artistic quality. This dedication to quality is what keeps the lights on and the doors open.
With continued support, they intend to entertain our audiences, challenge artists, and keep growing. You can learn more about youth camps, auditions, performances, membership, and sponsorship.
2035Hwy 33 South
Cloquet, MN 55720