Oil Lamp Theater is a professional not-for-profit theater organization that is dedicated to the presentation of traditional theater in a unique, inviting and intimate venue. Its mission is not only to stimulate interest in the performing arts but also to promote a sense of, and provide a service to, the community.
History of OLT
Oil Lamp Theater was originally founded in February 2005 as a by-invitation-only theater group. The Theater was dedicated to the preservation of a traditional theater experience in unique and original venues. The initial vision for this dates back to Keith Gerth’s childhood when he would watch the Dick Van Dyke show. If you are not familiar, the main characters, Rob and Laura Petri would entertain friends at home with theater or musical entertainment. Keith was always inspired by this and thought it to be a truly unique way to experience theater – with a group of your friends who were already bonded in that they knew each other before coming into the experience. It made the experience that much more personable.
So, with that vision in mind Keith staged 20 productions for up to 35 friends and guests each night in his home, a condo in Lakeview. The name of the company comes from Keith’s childhood, where due to the rural nature of his home town, they lost power often and used oil lamps to light the house. This brought the family closer and created a beautiful soft and intimate glow. He therefore continued the tradition his mother started of collecting oil lamps.
In March 2012, Oil Lamp Theater was incorporated as a not-for-profit theater and established its new location in downtown Glenview at 1723 Glenview Road. Our new venue provides seating for 60 guests. In 2021, we opened our bar, serving delicious libations before, during, and after each production. We also offer fresh-baked complimentary cookies at each performance. We also invite you to meet and mingle with the actors after each performance.
Please join us to experience this special and unique theater opportunity. Bring some friends, make new friends and experience a night you will never forget. Oil Lamp is more than theater, it’s an experience. Experience it today!
Works are selected that will celebrate the Theater’s unique space and the intimacy with the audience members. The Theater performs plays that are designed to present and appeal to core American traditional values. The Theater’s primary focus is to explore various aspects of love and relationships and the impact that love has on each life. From the Theater’s first production “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” each of the Theater’s productions has explored some aspect of love – from its tragic nature to its celebration of life and fulfillment. The Theater selects material for production that has broad appeal. The majority of works presented by the Theater are comedic in nature, although the Theater does occasionally present dramatic material as in its presentation of “12 Angry Jurors”. Even in those dramatic presentations, however, there exists an element of the exploration of love and its impact. For example, in “12 Angry Jurors” the play explored the relationship between a father and his estranged son as well as the degree of love each of us feels for individuals that have been victimized by our society.
Through this exploration, the Theater challenges each of its audience members to explore their own feelings around love and its impact on them personally. The play “Mass Appeal” challenged each of the audience members to explore their relationship with faith as well as their love of God. Does love occasionally blind us to perform actions that are sometimes contrary to the very expression of love? And finally, in the play “The Subject Was Roses” the impact of the loss of love within a family was explored. Even though these underlying concepts can be intensely personal, the material is presented in comedic ways that temper the overall tone of the experience while effectively communicating the underlying concepts. Audience members have expressed appreciation for how the Oil Lamp material touches their core emotions, often provocative yet always entertaining.
The goal is to create an experience that “immerses” the guest completely into the performance. Upon arrival at the theater, each guest is personally greeted by the Artistic Director or a representative of the theater. The lobby space is decorated in a way that is warm and comforting with as many features of home as possible. The space is designed to encourage a relaxed atmosphere that promotes a gathering and conversation. Freshly-baked cookies, snacks and soda are complimentary.
The 60-seat theater space itself is designed to be more home-like and welcoming than a black-box theater. The chairs are stand-alone padded chairs on simple risers that blend into the stage space with minimal barriers between. Guests are never farther than 25 feet from the stage. The Theater also continues its tradition of a post-show gathering of cast and guests to discuss the play and engage in conversation. All guests and cast are encouraged to participate. The theater, lobby and restrooms of the theater are all handicap accessible.
Elizabeth Mazur Levin
Director of Development and Marketing
Board of Directors
Lynn and Kenneth Denenberg
Annual Reports and 990 Tax Returns
Annual Report 2014
990 Tax Return 2014
Annual Report 2015
990 Tax Return for 2015
Annual Report 2016
990 Tax Return for 2016
Annual Report 2017
990 Tax Return for 2017
990 Tax Return for 2018
Oil Lamp Theater is a proud member of the following organizations: