The Drama Group was born on October 28, 1931. Its first production, Telegrams, was an original three-act comedy by Mabel Waters. Mrs. Waters later became president of The Drama Group, which at that time was under the sponsorship of the Arts and Literature Department of the Chicago Heights Women’s Club.
From 1931 to 1957, community momentum built. The Drama Group was well received and continued to grow and prosper. Lacking rehearsal space for productions, the participants held rehearsals in the building that housed the Chicago Heights morgue.
During World War II, The Drama Group took 2 year hiatus from producing shows, as many of its members were involved in the war effort. After the war, as prosperity increased, The Drama Group looked for a permanent home. Finally, in 1956–57 two lots were purchased. The Drama Group board of directors successfully petitioned to have the property annexed to Chicago Heights and rezoned, and The Drama Group Studio Theatre was built, providing a working studio theatre complete with rehearsal/stage space, set workshop, costume and props loft, dressing rooms and offices.
In 1959 The Drama Group began staging musicals and larger productions at the Bloom Auditorium Theatre. In 1981, The Drama Group celebrated its Golden 50th Anniversary… in 2006, The Drama Group celebrated its Silver 75th Anniversary, each with a retrospective musical production entitled Encore and Encore 75, respectively.
Daytime Children’s Theatre productions were added to The Drama Group roster of productions (2 per season) in 1994…as well a The Drama Group Kids Summer Theatre Camp, which began in 1998.
One of the Drama Group’s most exciting additions to its activities in recent years has been the Theatre-Exchange Program, inaugurated in 1999 when The Drama Group traveled to Hastings, East Sussex, England, to perform Spoon River Anthology. The following year, The Stables Theatre brought Great Expectations to The Drama Group audiences. Several other exchanges have taken place since then, and the Group looks forward to a continued friendship and exchanges with The Stables.
The Drama Group, still one of the only volunteer theatre groups, is well-known and well-respected throughout the Chicagoland area. Our productions have been compared to the quality of those downtown and on Broadway.
In 2015 The Drama Group was awarded as the sole recipient of the Award of Excellence in Community Theatre by The Illinois Theatre Association.
In 2016 the board decided to rename the Studio Theatre to The Milord Studio Theatre. Paul Milord, Sr. literally built the building in 1972. Paul, his wife Maureen, who ran our box office and their family have been active members for many years. We could think of no better way to show our appreciation for the unwavering support, energy, time and talents Paul and his family have given to The Drama Group. Here’s to the house that Paul built!
As The Drama Group works its way toward its first 100 years, we continue to provide quality theatre at affordable prices and continue to put the community in community theatre – always welcoming and giving the community the opportunity to participate — whether it be onstage or off — and to become a member of this vital organization. The Drama Group exists through the benevolance of the community…through ticket subscriptions, fundraisers, patron donations, grants and advertising.
With an active membership and interesting, varied seasons of quality productions, The Drama Group is proud of its heritage and committed to a long future in the southwest suburbs.
Something Else You Should Know…
- From 1931 to 1966 The Drama Group had no logo to represent us…except for the words “THE DRAMA GROUP”.
- In 1966, a new member stepped forward to change that. Don Tennant was an integral part of The Drama Group for many years – as director, actor and advocate.
- In ‘real life’ Don was employed by the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency since 1950. He left Leo Burnett after two decades and in 1971 became Chairman & Creative Services Director for the Clinton E. Frank Agency in Chicago. In 1973 he opened his own agency, Don Tennant Advertising.
- In 1987 Don sold his agency to Nobel Communications, which formed Nobel-Tennant and later became Nobel & Associates. Don served as a consultant for Nobel until the 1990’s and consulted other agencies and marketers until his passing in 2001.
- Don gave birth to some of the most iconic brand identities known world-wide! Brand identities that are still used and still appeal to consumers, today.
- From The Top 10 List of Advertising Icons of the 20th Century, Don’s iconic brand designs hold the number 1, 3, 6 & 9 spots…
The Marlboro Man (#1), Jolly Green Giant (#3), Pillsbury Doughboy (#6); Tony the Tiger (#9); and also the Keebler Elves.
- Oh yes…one more of Don’s iconic designs is close to our hearts and our history…our very own Drama Group Logo! To quote Paul Harvey: “…And now you know the rest of the story.”