Amateur theater has been alive and well in Kearney for at least 100 years. Historical newspaper archives often contain stories about local actors presenting plays of all kinds at local theaters, in parks and on the stages of schools.
Kearney Community Theatre grew from a core group of Kearneyites that had been presenting one or two shows a year from the late 50’s into the mid- 1970s. KCT was formally organized in 1978.
From 1978 to 1984, KCT began presenting 4 to 5 shows a year and, since there was no permanent home stage, the productions were staged in a variety of venues around town —
The courtroom of the old Buffalo County Courthouse (Twelve Angry Men), the ballroom of the old Elks Club (22nd and 1st Avenue), the Fort Kearny Hotel (also 22nd and 1st), the First Methodist Church (Amal and the Night Visitors), and the Miriam Drake Theater at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
In 1984, KCT purchased the Trinity Presbyterian Church building located on Avenue A between 25th and 26th Streets (which is now the Jubilee Center). The sanctuary was converted to a cozy theater seating 120, the education wing was converted to an office, and ticket window and the basement served as dressing rooms, a costume shop, and general storage.
By early 1989 KCT had outgrown the old church and we entered into a community fundraising campaign to build a new theater. The new (now 29 years old) theater opened its doors for its first show (Cheating Cheaters) in October 1990.
Since 1990, KCT has produced an annual season of five productions, usually three comedy/dramas and two musicals. In the last 33 years, KCT’s current stage has entertained audiences with over 170 productions. Additionally, KCT’s young people’s theater arm, The Academy of Children’s Theater (ACT) provides performing arts classes for young people ages 8 to 18. For over 20 years, ACT has presented at least two major productions each season, with workshops on acting, dancing and technical theater for K-12 students..