Geneva Theatre was founded by a group of prominent area industrialists, including chewing-gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., Nash Motors division superintendent Robert N. Lee, Nash Motors vice-president Walter Alford, cartoonist Sidney Smith of “Andy Gump” fame, brewer William Pabst, Jr., and several others. The first operating company was Community Theatres, of which Pabst was president.
The downtown Lake Geneva landmark opened in 1928 with the showing of a world premiere film and live orchestra. The early years featured Vaudeville acts, including the Marx Brothers, on a stage in front of the movie screen.
During the early 1980s, the theater acquired the building next door that housed a popular confectionary and soda fountain. Two more screens were added, and the balcony was converted to a separate auditorium, to create a 4-screen first-run movie house. In 2010, the theater closed and the building remained empty for several years.
In 2016, the venue was purchased by Shad Branen, operator of the Plaza Theater in nearby Burlington, WI. The building underwent $2 million in renovations, including upgrades to digital projection, new screens, leather seating, and an enhanced concessions stand. The Geneva Theater reopened in March, 2017.
The theater closed again in March, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges in the movie industry. It became an opportunity to return to the theater’s original roots, renamed Geneva Stage. Another round of renovations included converting the two side auditoriums to Geneva Tap House, and returning the second floor auditorium to a balcony. The original stage in the main auditorium was restored, including new sound, lighting and video equipment. A large retractable movie screen still allows the showing of movies. And, a fully-refurbished 1920s Wurlitzer is being installed for organ recitals and silent movies.
Let the story continue…
Geneva Stage is a fully-restored live entertainment venue located in the heart of downtown Lake Geneva, WI. Our historic main auditorium and balcony have a capacity of over 300 with leather rocker seats, near-stage standing/dancing area, and special VIP spaces.
In addition to a broad range of live music genres, we host stand-up comedy, theatrical plays, classic and indie films, and a fully-refurbished 1920s Wurlitzer organ. It’s also a perfect venue for private events.
The world’s a Stage, and we are all players. Enjoy the show!