Towngate Theatre

Oglebay institute's Towngate Theatre keeps the communitiy in "community theater."

“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” – Thornton Wilder

Keeping the Community in Community Theater. . .

A cornerstone of creative life in Wheeling, Towngate brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to create and experience art onstage. Through educational programs, community theater and other live performances, Towngate fosters an appreciation for performing arts, celebrates the essential power of the theater to illuminate our common humanity and serves as an entertainment destination for residents of the Ohio Valley and beyond.

Core Programs:

Public Classes, Workshops and Camps

Performing arts classes, workshops and summer camps at Towngate Theatre provide countless opportunities to develop and hone skills under the director of some of the area’s finest teachers, designers and directors. Our programs nurture talent, masterfully weave lessons, rehearsals and performances into the learning process and engage students to practice and grow, individually and as a team.

Youth acting classes, summer day camps and children’s theater productions give young people opportunities to learn from seasoned actors and experience the joy, pride and sense of personal accomplishment that comes with the praise and applause for a job well done. Youth programs enhance fundamental life skills such as teamwork, patience, mutual respect, self-confidence, tolerance and creative problem solving.  Adult actors can stretch their talents, perfect their technique and perform in a variety of challenging and popular works during our full season of community theater.

Arts and Entertainment 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this charming church-turned-theater is home to a full season of community theater, children’s theater, dance performances, music concerts, spoken word events, improv and cinema.  An intimate and informal venue, Towngate provides quality, year-round entertainment and intellectual stimulation to diverse audiences and serves as an anchor attraction in Wheeling’s historic Centre Market District.

  • Towngate Community Theatre is an intimate theater experience showcasing the talent of local actors in a variety of though-provoking, heartwarming, comedic and historically significant works from renowned playwrights and talented newcomers.
  • Towngate Children’s Theatre provides theater experiences that stimulate the imagination, intellect and spirit through classic and modern-day stories and brings families together through the arts.
  • Towngate Second Season enhances Wheeling’s arts landscape with literary programming, theatrical readings, poetry and more.  Programs often feature works by emerging and/or local playwrights and poets.
  • Live Music shows bring some of the region’s  most versatile and entertaining musicians to the Towngate stage and support Wheeling’s thriving local music scene.
  • Towngate Cinema celebrates the art of film and the significance of the small-town movie house. The Wheeling Film Society brings film aficionados together to watch and discuss some of America’s most iconic films and offers free screenings throughout the year. On other weekends throughout the year, Towngate art house cinema hosts independent films, thought-provoking documentaries and film shorts by local, regional and national filmmakers. Our movie selections encourage thought and conversation. You won’t be disappointed. Our regulars know we only show quality films. Sometimes, they show up for screenings without knowing the title of the film. They trust us that much. Whether you consider yourself a film buff or you only like movies for the popcorn, our films will entertain and inspire.  Visit the OI events calendar for upcoming films.
  • Improv shows feature brave performers onstage without a script, props or a safety net, turning audience suggestions into narrative stories that entertain and amuse. Towngate is home to two talented improv groups– the Left of Centre Players, an adult troupe and the Crazy 8s, which comprises high school and college-aged thespians.
  • Parcel Players fosters young talent by offering young people, from age 12 through college, a chance to act, direct, design sets, work with costumes, lighting and more. Open auditions are held each spring, and the troupe stages two-three productions each summer.
  • Dance Concerts take place annually on the Towngate stage. Oglebay Institute’s Youth Ballet Company performs a classic ballet in the fall and the holiday favorite The Nutcracker each December.

School Programs/Educational Outreach

Towngate educational programs use community theater as a tool for active and analytical learning, emphasize a culture of inclusivity and develop interpersonal and critical thinking skills.

Our curriculum:

  • Fosters creativity and spontaneity
  • Promotes cooperation and working together for a common goal
  • Enhances self-confidence and problem-solving skills
  • Improves active listening
  • Teaches effective use of spoken, written and visual language to communicate with audiences

Field trips and in-school programs are available for multiple age groups and are adjusted based on grade/experience level, ensuring an appropriate and challenging learning experience for students.  Programs supplement classroom teaching, meet content standards and objectives and build 21st century learning skills.

Many programs are already designed and can be quickly implemented into the school curriculum such as Creative Dramatics and Instant Theater. The Fall Play Tour brings a traveling children’s theater production to dozens of regional schools, providing access to performing arts and promoting literacy.  Programs can also be customized based on the classroom teacher’s objectives and specific lesson plans.  Residencies are also available in which our trained educators are placed in schools to work with students over an extended period of time.