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YPT History

Founded in 1977, the Young Peoples Theatre continues to serve the Kankakee River Valley as an exciting outlet for children’s creative expression. This program was designed for children ages 6 – 16 years old and all of us who are young at heart!

Working on the concept that all kids love to perform, don colorful costumes, wear makeup and have fun, a group of parents set up workshops that could involve the whole family in YPT. From set-design to dance, make-up to characters, these families began creating a new and entertaining form of performance art in the area.

The Great Cross Country Race was the first YPT production back in February of 1978 followed that fall by The Hobbit. The next year, this volunteer group staged The Golden Goose and, after a series of workshops on puppets, Alice in Wonderland.

It, at times, even amazed the Board how the seed planted in 1977 had grown with only the love of families and of performing to nurture it. The money was tight, as they made only enough to break even on each show. In 1982 however, a grant from Mobil Chemical Company enabled YPT to stage an ambitious project ... The Velveteen Rabbit, starring a cast of 65 children. From that point on, YPT never looked back and the plays kept getting better and better. Winnie The Pooh was delightful with the 34 animal characters. In 1984, a cast of 80 brought Dr. Doolittle to life. The audience participated in singing “Talk To The Animals” along with the cast for the finale.

Since 1985, the auditoriums at Lincoln Cultural Center and Kankakee Jr. High School have been “home” to Young Peoples Theatre. Twice a day on two consecutive days, we fill the auditorium performing for thousands of school children. In addition, there are two public performances for all, so that relatives, friends and the general public can see the YPT kids in action under the lights in the Kankakee River Valley’s largest theatrical facility. It’s a thrill for all, performers and audiences alike. And we keep our admission price at a minimum so that all can truly enjoy the fun of the Young Peoples Theatre.

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