The WYO theater in downtown Sheridan, W.Y. is an incredibly fun place to visit especially while learning about the historic value of the building and valuing the opportunities that the theater provides to local residents.
Erin Butler, the Executive Director, explains a little of the history of the WYO Theater.
“The WYO Theater was built in 1923 as a vaudeville space. And throughout the years, it’s changed, obviously, its function. So it became a movie theater in the late 20’s and then through the 30’s and 40’s and continued that way until about the late 70’s into the 80’s and when it was threatened with demolition. They were going to tear it down and weren’t sure what they were going to do with it, but there were a group of people who got together and said, ‘you know, this is an important piece of Sheridan.’ We can see a vision of this becoming a performing arts center. So, they saved the WYO. They saved the WYO by going out into the community, creating performances. It was a complete grassroots movement, and the city saw that there was a need. The city actually owns the entire space and it’s grown over the years.”
Today, the WYO Theater’s mission is very clear; to inspire, educate, and entertain people of all ages. Butler describes how they are accomplishing their mission.
“It did reopen in 1989 as the WYO Theater. We’re a live performing arts venue. Typically, what we do is we present a season of professional, performing arts. So things like music, dance, ballet, which is also dance. We do a lot of children’s theater. Part of our season is providing opportunities for the local youth, the schools to come in and watch free performances during the day, matinées and things. We present about a 23 to 28 performance season throughout our year, which is fairly robust.”
The WYO theater wants to also ensure that the performing arts has a place to be seen, heard, and felt for their audiences.
“On top of that, we have the National Theater live. We also present Met Live from HD and recently we were doing the both show and cinema. Additionally, we offer a rental space. We also have an arm of the WYO theater called WHO Play and that is focused on arts and arts education. We go out into the community and we also offer workshops and programing. We added more space that was completed in 2014. We refer to that section as the Mars Theater. The Mars section includes a black box theater and includes space for the Sheridan College Theater Department. So we partner with them. We have a community costume space up on the third floor. So we house all the, you know, all the costumes for the community.”
The WYO theater continues to provide the Sheridan community with a historic space that can be shared with generations to come. To learn more or to purchase tickets, click here.