Major Door County theater changes name

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In January 2015, Door County’s award-winning American Folklore Theatre will debut a new name — “Northern Sky Theater.” The name change was announced at the company’s annual “Raise the Curtain” fundraiser May 25.

The change is partly a tribute to the company’s late co-founder Fred Alley (“Beneath the Northern Sky” is the title of one of his best-known ballads) and partly a rebranding. Artistic director Jeffrey Herbst said board members have considered changing the company’s name for the past seven years. He said the new name evokes the experience of seeing a summer show at the group’s outdoor amphitheater in Peninsula State Park, where the natural setting is itself a dramatic element.

The name change also acknowledges AFT’s evolution from its earliest days. Forty-five years ago, David Peterson founded the group under the name The Heritage Ensemble. In 1990, the group reorganized into an ensemble that performed traditional folksongs and tales. But over the past 25 years, the focus has shifted to the creation and presentation of original, full-book musicals.

AFT will introduce the new name to its audiences during the summer season and unveil a new logo later this fall.