The Party Band

The founders of the company were a band, brought together to make touring original rock operas. When they pivoted to producing cabaret-style comedy shows, performances of rock, blues, and soul hits filled the time between each short play or sketch. The band was SBX’s first and most powerful marketing tool. They played fairs, opened festivals, and even took on bar gigs — all to raise awareness and pay the bills.

Through the decades, the art at SBX evolved. The comedy shows got bigger and bolder. From their rock opera roots grew dance theater and metamedia productions that explored the human condition and paid tribute to cultural icons and eras. But at the center was the music – to amplify and interpret their vision of an artfully courageous world.

Since 2010, SBX has spent most of its performance time rocking the stages of their Brewery District home. But for those who want to see what is now the nation’s largest resident theater ensemble in concert, SBX delivers free performances to celebrate Memorial and Labor Day weekends at Columbus Commons.

As SBX progresses in its artistic endeavors with each new creation, it remains firmly anchored in the dynamic force of rock ‘n’ roll, which has the ability to inspire us to live, learn, and love with unbridled passion.

SNL? Oh yeah, we can do that.

In 1988, Stev Guyer fielded a cast of performers and students to stage Dawn of Infinite Dreams, an original rock opera about the life of the wizard Merlin. The troupe took their show to performance spaces in and around Columbus, producing it wherever and whenever they could. To keep his little company of players working together between tours, Guyer moved them into an abandoned horse-drawn buggy factory next to an uninhabited prison. They painted a square on the floor, called it the stage, and the Shadowbox Theater was born.

Now with a (sort of ) space to call their own, the company had to decide exactly what kind of "theatre" they were going to do. They landed on a cabaret-style format that rolled elements of drama, rock music, and comedy into a bold and bawdy show. With experience from mounting Dawn, music and drama had become second nature. Comedy, however, was a whole new challenge. With characters and quips from sketch shows like Saturday Night Live and MADtv, America was clearly in love with comedy. But if you weren't in Chicago, New York, Toronto or Los Angeles,  a professional, live sketch comedy show—let alone a good one—didn't appear on your weekend paper's "Things To Do" list.

It was the 90's. People still read news on paper. It was a thing.

Today, SBX's comedy shorts and music shows are at the heart of its programming. Its skewering sketches on love, relationships, and pop culture have kept audiences howling for decades --- and solidified its place as one of the region's most unique and versatile ensembles.

Whether it powers the stories of legendary wizards or the birth of wacky characters, the SBX creative force is a fearless energy that compels us to do the unthinkable, and achieve the unimaginable. 

Those That Rock, Teach

Shadowbox Live didn't name itself after the display cases that hold medals and memorabilia. As the story goes, it was the name of the company's 1st education initiative — an internship for aspiring artists to "shadow" the ensemble as interns for its "blackbox" theater productions. The "Shadowbox" program proved to be a success —in more ways than one.

From the beginning, the founders' knew their unusual ideas on theater would need an unusual approach to the craft itself. In short, they would need to teach themselves how to make shows. And as its evolution accelerated into the 21st century, Shadowbox Live discovered that their success wasn't magic. It was method. And it had to be shared with the generation of artists to come.

Today, the SBX Performance Academy introduces young adults to courage, compassion, and imagination. We are fortunate to the educators, administrators, and students who give themselves to the sacred process, purpose, and power of art.