BARABOO, Wis (SPECTRUM NEWS) — 105 years ago, the circus icon Al Ringling watched the first performance in his new baraboo theater, but a century later, without community support “the prettiest playhouse in America” may permanently close.

"We were just getting ready to roll out the 2020 season. And we had 58 movies on our schedule, we had [...] 38 different performances," Al Ringling Theater CEO Dr. Tom McEvilly said about how the pandemic wiped it all away. "Now everybody is in the dark, at a lot of places,"  he added.


But Dr. McEvilly and the theater's marketing director Shannon Hill believe one program could support the playhouse: the Paver Project. 

"Where you put a loved one's name, business, whatever on a paver, we have three different sizes, and then you will be remembered forever outside our front doors under all of our marquee," Hill said.  

The pavers range in price from $500 to $5,000.  

"We get no funding by the city, the county, or the state. So we live on donations,”  McEvilly said. “We live on grants, fundraising, ticket sales.”

The historic playhouse hopes this effort can keep its original purpose intact.

"If you take a look around so many beautiful buildings have been turned into multiplexes or antique malls or knocked down and made in the parking lots, or housing places,  to keep this amazing historic building alive, it’s our destiny, our mission, we need to keep the Al strong," Dr. McEvilly said.

Learn more about how to purchase one of those pavers here.