THEATRE IN THE PARK...
one of the country's largest outdoor Community Theatres!
The idea of presenting live theatre performances in a Johnson County park was launched in 1970 with the theatre's first season on a stage comprised of a few boards and bricks near a pond in Antioch Park. The early patrons were enthusiastic, supportive and so hungry for the arts that the park could not accommodate them all. After only two seasons, the stage was moved to an area in Shawnee Mission Park where the program thrived and the crowds continued to grow.
Recognizing the program's obvious appeal and growth potential, the Shawnee Mission Sertoma Club raised funds and with the support of Johnson County Park and Recreation District, a permanent stage, inside Shawnee Mission Park, was dedicated on June 20, 1980. Many additions and improvements have been made over the years including upgraded dressing rooms, public restrooms, a set construction shop, a technical bunker, concession stand and a permanent box office. In 2010, a beautiful outdoor picnic Pavilion was constructed on the Theatre grounds, serving as a perfect venue for corporate events, weddings, family reunions or any special event. In 2014, new air conditioned dressing rooms were built to accommodate the ever growing casts of our yearly OUTDOOR musical theatre season.
Celebrating its 54th Season in 2023, The Theatre in the Park continues a summer theatre tradition that has entertained audiences for generations. With annual attendance of approximately 35,000 patrons, Theatre in the Park shares the magic of live theatre with young and old alike and draws patrons from throughout the Greater Kansas City area.
The Theatre provides creative challenges for hundreds of performers (actors, orchestra, crew) as well as employment opportunities for area residents. The Theatre in the Park has won numerous awards and accolades, including "Best in Business" by Ingram's Magazine.
After over 50 years of entertaining audiences, both young and old... we hope you'll join us as we continue to enhance the lives of everyone in the Kansas City metropolitan area for decades to come!
Theatre in the Park Indoor
In June of 2017, we opened the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center complete with a Blackbox theatre! The inaugural production of Theatre in the Park Indoor was GREASE directed by Producing Artistic Director, Tim Bair.
The Blackbox theatre at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center allows for Theatre in the Park’s programming to continue year long. Theatre in the Park INDOOR gives the community exposure to more intimate stories that can be told in new and exciting ways. Typically a Theatre in the Park INDOOR season will consist of a Spring and Fall musical, as well as a family oriented Holiday show in December.
The Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center opened June 10, 2017 to rave reviews from county patrons and staff. The Blackbox Theatre then became a great home for the Theatre In The Park INDOOR productions.
The Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center was re-purposed from the original King Louie West, a multi faceted entertainment venue opening originally in 1959. The original architect was a local man named, Manual Morris. He designed both portions in a mid-century modern aesthetic. Ice Chateau considered "Googie" architecture, a sub-set of modern architecture influenced by car culture, the Atomic Age and the space age. King Louie's accordion roof and front entry spire are indicative of its Googie style.
TIP performances in the space range anywhere from Kid Friendly to Adults Only. The Indoor Space allows for the repertoire of material to broaden its horizons from the large outdoor amphitheater.
Whether INDOOR at the Johnson County Arts and Heritage Center or OUTDOOR at the Amphitheatre inside Shawnee Mission Park, Theatre in the Park continues bringing professional level community theatre to the Johnson County and surrounding communities year after year. Join us, won’t you?
Theatre in the Park is committed to non-discrimination and a flexible, imaginative casting policy. We also strive to be culturally conscious as it pertains to social and historical content. Performers of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, all sexual orientations, all gender identities, all body styles and all ages are encouraged to audition!
The casts for our OUTDOOR shows are selected after an incredible weekend of auditions in the spring drawing hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of aspiring actors from our surrounding communities.
Theater patrons bring blankets, lawn chairs, and picnic baskets. TIP seats approximately 3,000 but we generally see an average of 900 patrons at our performances. if you'd like to sit close to the stage, arrive right when the gates open to the seating bowl! Typically, each performance lasts about 2 hours with a 15 minute intermission.
Theatre in the Park is handicapped accessible with reserved parking, ramps and wheelchair seating areas. The entrance at GATE 3 is the easiest for patrons preferring a gentler slope into the seating bowl. Sign language interpretation is provided at the first Saturday performance. If that performance is rained out, then the second Saturday performance of that show will be interpreted.
Theatre in the Park is supported by the generosity of many area corporations and foundations that believe, like we do, that Theatre in the Park enhances the quality of life in our communities. However, because only about 40% of our operating budget is from tax support these vital sponsors help finance our program with funds, materials, and/or service contributions.
Many companies in our community offer matching grant programs to their employees as well and we encourage those interested in supporting us to check with their employers to see if you can DOUBLE your contribution to TIP!
The theater facility and Theatre Pavilion, are available for rent for special events, corporate gatherings, public attractions, concerts, and fundraising events.
Theatre in the Park will abide by local, state and federal mandates regarding COVID 19 considerations, and will maintain a schedule of enhanced cleaning protocols.