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A Family Affair: Browns Century Theater in Le Mars

While COVID-19 is altering nearly every aspect of life, small businesses are being hit especially hard. These changes are forcing business owners to adjust, but their uplifting stories of perseverance and creativity are showing what Iowans are capable of in difficult times.

COVID-19 has impacted a lot in 2020, but it hasn’t slowed down the Brown family of Le Mars, entertainer extraordinaires who own and operate The Browns Century Theater and Gift Shoppe. While the theater did experience a brief shutdown due to COVID-19, precautions have been put into place to keep the theater up and running. With disposable masks, hand sanitizer stations and half-capacity seating, the Brown family have a plan to keep their patrons safe. And not only are they still performing shows, but they have a booked calendar through the end of the year.

Deep Roots

The Brown family, comprised of mother Shelly, daughter Michaela and sons Adam and Andrew, have a passion for bringing people together through music. They’ve performed together for 20 years across the country, including Americana Theatre, Dollywood theaters and cruise ships in the Caribbean.

“Obviously music has been in our family since we were young,” said Michaela. “We loved music, [but] when we went to Branson that’s where we fell in love with the costumes. After Branson, we knew we loved theater.”

The Brown family have performed more than 30 shows in Branson and were offered their own theater. The family, however, decided they couldn’t relocate to Missouri and wanted to stay in their home state, Iowa.

“We didn’t want to leave Iowa. We love it and wanted to make it work here and knew we could offer things to people who come to Le Mars,” said Michaela.

“The Most Beautiful Building” in Le Mars

Staying in Le Mars didn’t necessarily mean giving up on the Brown family’s dream of owning their own theater. In 2015, they decided to purchase a historic bank building in downtown Le Mars. In fact, they bought the building on its 100th birthday.

The Brown family restored and refurbished the building to its original condition. The renovation uncovered a few hidden gems, including boxed ceiling, wood molding, hand-stenciled design and marble.

While the theatre is their passion, they also wanted to create a destination for locals and visitors. They opened a gift and chocolate shop and a boutique hotel.

Of course, the main draw is the theater itself. The Brown family produce and perform shows frequently, with both original and classic music.

“We do a variety of music, something to offer everybody, from kids to baby boomers. We strive to make everything a wonderful experience,” said Shelly.

Room to Grow

Despite the brief hiatus from COVID-19, Browns Century Theater is fully operational with an exciting lineup of shows until December. In fact, they’re looking to grow their performances in the future as life begins to return to normal.

“Right now, we’re only doing one or a few weekends a month, so there’s definitely room to expand,” said Shelly. “Performing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday is the long-term goal for the theater.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing, people will continue to search for ways to take their minds off of the real-world, if only for a short while. And the Browns Family Theater will welcome everyone just how they know best, by putting on a great show.

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