Our Mission

The Celebration Company challenges and entertains our audiences with classic plays, musicals, and innovative works. We seek out and nurture local talent, providing a supportive environment that fosters a love of all things theatre. We encourage and explore ideas, beliefs, and relationships in order to better understand the world we inhabit and the diverse voices that envelop us.

Our Programming

The Celebration Company puts on productions year-round. On "dark nights," we open the theater to present cultural events or readings of scripts in development.

Scholarships We Offer

The Virginia Roesch Scholarship is awarded to two young Celebration Company members each year in loving memory of Virginia Roesch, a regular patron of the Station Theatre for many years, by her family and the Celebration Company.

The Celebration Company also awards an annual scholarship to a deserving young company member in memory of our beloved friend Danny Sullivan.

History

The Big Four Railroad, 1923

The Station was constructed in 1923 as a passenger station for the Big Four Railroad. It was the third station built for the line in Urbana and the second one built on the site. Travelers boarding at Urbana could ride as far as Indianapolis to theeast and as far as Pekin to the west. Arriving passengers could transfer to the Wabash Railroad, which passed the building on the south side.

Although there is little left to show it, in the early part of this century the Big Four was one of Urbana's major industries, employing over four hundred people at its peak. On the land east of the theatre were a switching yard, a large roundhouse capable of servicing fifteen locomotives simultaneously, and a dozen or so machine shops to support it all.      

The energy needed to run the complex of shops required a huge power plant with a smokestack 133.5 feet tall. This smokestack dominated theskyline of Urbana until it was felled in 1959.      

The advent of multilane, highspeed highways in the fifties hastened the decline ofpassenger rail service. The Urbana passenger station was closed in 1956, the same year work began on Interstate 74. The last passenger train stopped at the Station on October 14, 1957.

The Celebration Company maintains ownership of the building and over the years has added to the landscape to provide an attractive historical site.

The Depot Theatre, 1973

“Theatre should always be a celebration” were the rousing words that inspired Rick Orr, artistic director of The Celebration Company at the Station Theatre, to purchase the Depot Theatre in Urbana and form a live theatre company dedicated to embodying that mission. Even in that inaugural season in 1973, The Celebration Company pursued cutting-edge works, from The Fantasticks to Pinter’s Old Times, and now, over forty years later, the company remains dedicated to entertaining, challenging, and inspiring audiences and training actors and technicians with year-round live theatre in the same former train station.

 

 

The First Forty Seasons: The Book

Read the digital version online, or order a print copy of The Station Theatre: The First Forty Seasons below:


Our building, then and now: