The Shadowbox Live companies were born in 1988 when their first rock opera, The Dawn of Infinite Dreams, was produced in Columbus, Ohio. The small cast participated in local productions of this show as well as monthly black box theatrical productions performed in The Shadowbox Theater, their converted rehearsal space in Columbus’ historic Buggyworks Building.
The small but dedicated troupe continuously altered the format of each new Shadowbox Live show and slowly but surely a small core of fans began to show their support, making suggestions and donations to the all-volunteer ensemble.
Recognizing the growth trend they were experiencing, the Shadowbox Live ensemble relocated to a raw warehouse space on Spring Street in October 1994. Kitchen, bar, and seating expansions complimented the troupes commitment to producing a mix of theater, sketch comedy, and live music.
The years spent on the Spring Street saw exponential growth. Performance schedules were increased to accommodate the growing patron base, and, as income would permit, performer/administrators were added to the company’s payroll.
Shadowbox Live was becoming a very unique commodity in Columbus and developer Yaromir Steiner saw the potential, courting the troupe for his Easton Town Center project. A state-of-the-art facility was created for the troupe, who had plans to manage both the Easton “main stage” Shadowbox Live and the Spring Street theater; which was to be a training ground for its rookie performers. But on March 1, 1999, the Spring Street theater was destroyed by fire, rendering the space useless and the troupe homeless until construction was completed at the Easton Town Center in June.
Despite the devastating loss incurred by the fire not a single employee was laid off and not a single paycheck was missed.
In June of 1999, Shadowbox Live was up and running at the Easton Town Center, and once again production schedules were altered to accommodate audience demand. Anxious to maintain a downtown presence, 2Co’s Cabaret, a more theatrical arm of the company was opened just 8 months later in Columbus’ trendy Short North district, where it remained until February 2006.
Equally anxious to prove that they had created a successful format that could survive outside its hometown, the company opened a satellite location in Greater Cincinnati in October 2001, giving performances until July 2011, when it closed in preparation for Shadowbox Live’s highly anticipated move back to Downtown Columbus.
In August 2011, Shadowbox Live relocated again. This marked the culmination of a dream several years in the making. Not only did the troupe return to what it considers its true home, downtown Columbus, but the theater now has enough space to accommodate both the ever-increasing audience demand and projected growth as Shadowbox Live looks towards the future.
Today Shadowbox Live is in a constant state of performance/production. Audience demand is barely being met as the popularity of the troupe’s productions soars, necessitating a 52-week per year performance schedule.
As the company continues to grow and mature, Shadowbox Live is constantly looking for opportunities that will not only meet the needs of the talented staff and the growing audiences but allow the troupe to reach out to schools, work with local arts organizations and musicians, and offer convenient meeting space for local business and community organizations.
This latest endeavor follows a history of expansion and aggressive self-promotion and is indicative of the company’s founding ideals, now embodied by the 60-plus member troupe. As a goal-oriented organization the ensemble has earned its success and thrives on the challenges that lay ahead.
The company remains an utterly unique and completely performer-operated organization, where strong-willed, talented individuals shape their future through wily business sense, edgy entertainment, and a drive to never settle for what is, but to strive for what could be.
“…one of Central Ohio’s own great success stories… Shadowbox [Live] is one of the hottest commodities on the Columbus theater scene, performing its mix of quick comedy sketches and rock ‘n’ roll music to sellout crowds…”
Eric Lyttle, Columbus Monthly