The Playhouse
Madison, Wisconsin

When the original Isthmus Playhouse opened in 1980, it featured a thrust stage within an asymmetrical auditorium with bench seating. The theater was rehabbed and reopened as “The Playhouse” in 2006. The auditorium volume was expressed as a two-story drum within the Overture Center lobby. Inside, the auditorium was re-envisioned and seated with conventional auditorium chairs. Changes to the adjacent Capitol Theater allowed expansion of the stage area; new dressing rooms were created, a flexible thrust stage was provided, and new rigging, lighting, audio systems were installed. Nextstage Design principal Gene Leitermann served as project manager and principal in charge for Theatre Projects.

Overture Center for the Arts

Design Architect
Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Executive Architect
Potter Lawson & Flad Architects

Kirkegaard Associates

Construction Manager
J H Findorff & Son

Construction Type
Adaptive reuse

Square Feet
390,000 (entire Overture Center)

$159 million (entire Overture Center)


Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society
Children’s Theatre of Madison
Forward Theatre Company
Madison Repertory Theatre

350-seat thrust theater

2008 American Architecture Award
2008 Urban Land Institute Award for Excellence
2008 AIA Connecticut Design Award

Photo: © Eric Plautz