Artists’ Ensemble Returns for 18th Season

After an 18-month pandemic hiatus, Artists’ Ensemble Theater (AET) returned with “Jeeves Saves the Day” at Cheek Theatre, in Rockford University’s Clark Arts Center, last month.

“We’re so happy to be back,” says Richard Raether, AET artistic director.

Season 18 will continue with two more productions. “Ben Butler,” a witty play set during the Civil War, will open on March 24, 2022. “Murder on the Air,” a layered mystery set at radio station WBFR in 1938, will debut on May 12.

While the stage lights were off, AET actors created a new project called “Mysterious Journey,” a podcast of short plays.

Each audio play runs 12 to 25 minutes and is adapted from works by writers like Ray Bradbury and H.G. Wells. The latest one is the multi-part adaptation of Agatha Christie’s “The Man in the Brown Suit.” There are 24 free episodes on AET’s podcast to enjoy whenever you’re ready. Listen to them on the AET website or download on your preferred podcast provider. The podcast continues with new episodes every two weeks.

“Our podcast has been tremendously popular,” Raether says. “We’ve reached 4,000 downloads in 30 countries. That’s certainly quite a feat and a testament to the appreciation of AET’s talented actors and staff.”

It’s been a long, successful road for AET, which was founded in 2004 and saw its very first performance sold out.

Raether has more than 40 years of experience. The Rockford native came back home after working in New York theaters for 10 years. His wife, Margaret, is a gifted playwright who provides original adaptations for both AET and other theater groups.

Another component of AET’s enduring success is Rockford University, home of AET’s live performances. Students can audition for age-appropriate roles in AET productions.

“We’re honored to bring back live theater to Rockford,” Raether says. “Please join us, we’re still here.”
Learn more at or call (815) 394-5004.❚