? Capitol Theatre -- Home of the Aberdeen Community Theatre and the Capitol Cinema
-- The Capitol Theatre --
415 W. Main Street, Aberdeen, SD

Home of the
Aberdeen Community Theatre

(Official ACT Web Page)
and the
Capitol Cinema

(Official Capitol Cinema Web Page)


ACT Logo

The Aberdeen Community Theatre, ACT is a not-for-profit community theatre serving the greater Aberdeen (SD) area and is a member of the Aberdeen Area Arts Council, the South Dakotans For The Arts, the Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of Community Theatre and the South Dakota Theatre Association. They perform at the historic downtown Capitol Theatre at 415 S. Main Street.

A little history...

Capitol Theatre, 1927
Capitol Theatre - 1927
The Aberdeen Community Theatre, then known as ACT2-- ACCT: the Aberdeen College-Community Theatre --was organized in October 1979 by Professor Richard Norquist (1933-2003), the Director of Theatre at Northern State College (now Northern State University) and Don Hall (1926-2008), the editor of Where & When, an entertainment weekly.

Two shows, Irving Berlin's Annie Get Your Gun and Philip King's British farce: See How They Run were presented on the MainStage of the Johnson Fine Arts Center during ACT's first "season" in the summer of 1980. This first "season" was extended when ACT produced Neil Simon's Barefoot In The Park in November at the Lumber Company, a popular entertainment facility in Aberdeen. This show was followed by a joint NSU/ACT staging of Dicken's Christmas Carol (at Northern) and Robert Anderson's You Know I Can't Hear You When The Water's Running at the Lumber Company. The original two show summer "season" had evolved into five shows presented in two different venues. Each show during this first year had a different director.

In the fall of 1983, after mounting thirteen individual productions, ACT announced their first three show season -- Godspell, The Man of La Mancha and A. R. Gurney 's The Dining Room. All three productions were directed by James L. Walker who, in 1985, was appointed ACT's Artistic and Managing Director. The position he holds today.

For the first eleven years, ACT did not have a home. Most of their productions were presented at the University's Johnson Center, but during the "school year" when that facility was in use, shows were mounted at the Aberdeen Convention Center, the Elks Lodge, the Lumber Company, and the Aberdeen Area Recreation and Cultural Center.


Interior of the Capitol Theatre - 1927

In the fall of 1991, the Capitol Theatre, Aberdeen's last remaining downtown movie house, was donated to ACT. The facility, which opened on January 12, 1927 with a touring production of Michael Arlen's The Green Hat, was without seats, dressing rooms, or shop space. The stage had a 27' proscenium opening and a depth of only 13'. The grid height was 41' but only two line sets remained. The lighting system, which was installed when the theatre opened in 1927, was now useless. All of the stage lights (borders and foots) had been removed and only three circuits of house lights still worked.

In 1992, a $500,000 fund raising drive, the "Capitol" Campaign, was initiated to prepare the theatre for production. In the spring of 1993, while funds were still being raised, ACT built a 32'x16' extension onto the stage (which more than doubled the stage depth), borrowed chairs from the Newman Center and the Ramada and Ramkota Inns, lighting equipment from Northern and Central High and mounted their first summer season of shows, Greater Tuna, Nunsence and Charley's Aunt, in their new home.

Capitol Theatre, 2006
Capitol Theatre - 2006

In 1994, while the theatre was being remodeled, the seasons three productions were once again staged at NSU's Johnson Center. The 1995 season, which included Lost in Yonkers, Into The Woods and Arsenic and Old Lace was ACT's first full season in the newly renovated Capitol Theatre.

The 1,734 - 11 watt lamps in the Capitol Theatre's sixty foot tall marquee, which had been dark since the fire department declared it a "fire hazard" in 1994, were relighted on May 21, 1998. Three chapters of Questers-- Land of Oz, Yellow Brick Road, and Emerald City --an international organization founded to encourage the study of antiques and foster the preservation and restoration of historical landmarks, raised the more than $ 130,000 needed for the marquee's renovation.

January 2002 saw the completion of new handicap accessable restroom for the audience and new dressing rooms and a scene shop backstage. A "state of the art" 139 channel lighting system was installed the following year. In February 2004 a "state of the art" sound system and, again with the assistance of the Questers, six French art-deco chandeliers were installed in the auditorium. During the summer of 2007, a 20'x28' movie screen, 35mm film projector and four channel Dolby stereo sound system was installed in the theatre. The first film to be screened in the new Capitol Cinema was Sean Penn's Into the Wild which was shown at the opening of the South Dakota Film Festival on September 21, 2007. In the spring of 2013 the Capitol Cinema went digital.


Honk - 2007
ACT has won first place in the Dakota Community Theatre Festival seven times. First in 1981 with "I'm Herbert" from You Know I Can't Hear You When The Water's Running, in 1991 with "Laughing Wild," in 2001 with The Compleat Wrks Of Wilm Shkspr (Abridged), in 2003 with "The Diary of Adam and Eve" from The Apple Tree, in 2007 with Honk, which also won the Region V Festival in Liberty, Missouri and placed third at the national ACCT Festival in Charlotte, NC; in 2009 with How To Talk Minnesotan, the Musical, which also won the Region V Festival in Minden, NE and competed at the national ACCT Festival in Tacoma, WA, and in 2011 with Perfectly Normal & Healthy. The 2007 production of Honk! was also performed at the World Festival of Children Performing Arts in Toyama, Japan on August 3, 2008.

Productions from past seasons...


Aberdeen Community Theatre
417 S. Main, PO Box 813, Aberdeen, SD 57402-0813
605-225-2228 - FAX# 605-226-5494
Email: act@nvc.net

Capitol Theatre
415 S. Main Street
Aberdeen, SD 57401

Artistic Director: James L. Walker


This page is hosted by Northern State University, Aberdeen, SD. and
Maintained by Larry Wild, ACT Lighting Advisor
Last updated: August 16, 2013
Copyright © 1996-2013 by Aberdeen Community Theatre