Each summer and fall for 80 years, magic has been being made in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania at the non-profit Mountain Playhouse theater in Jennerstown, Pa.That’s when a company of professional actors, directors, designers and technicians from around the country gather to create a season of theater.
They do this all in a wonderfully unique and creatively repurposed 1805 gristmill located on a peaceful Stoughton Lake. It’s a picturesque setting, worth the visit alone, but what is happening inside this charming theater is the true magic. The “Broadway quality” productions each season operate under a CORST (Council of Regional Stock Theaters) and contract with Actors’ Equity Association. It is one of only eight professional summer stock theaters still operating in the United States today.
This coming season 2018-2019 will mark the 80th anniversary season of the theater founded in 1939 by James Stoughton. Stoughton and his sister owned a nearby sandwich shop, now the Green Gables Restaurant and thought a mountain theater might draw more guests to the road side sandwich shop.
It certainly did! More than 25,000 guests from across the region and beyond visit the Mountain Playhouse each season and are treated to live professional theater that will make them laugh, cry and yearn for more.
The theater’s season runs from June to October producing six shows with 16 performances each that range from drama, to comedy to musicals. The recent production of “Million Dollar Quartet” provided the characterization and music of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash to delighted audiences. During each of the six show runs, the theater offers some special events for theater goers.
“Opening Night Celebrations” follow the opening night performance with a complimentary party for the audience to mix and mingle with cast members.
“Talkback to Us” Sundays follow the first Sunday matinee of each run and invite the audience to visit with the cast and producer for an informal chat about the production.
“Under 21 Nights” occur on Wednesday nights and invite younger theater patrons to enjoy a show at a student friendly price. And each May, the theater hosts more than 4,000 school children from 45 different elementary schools to attend a live theater performance for their first time.
Executive Director of Mountain Playhouse, Patty Carnevali, invites everyone to “Come, be apart of the fun and the 80th season!” and reminds us that season subscriptions and single tickets are available for purchase and bus groups are most welcome. When you visit, don’t forget to stop at “The Snack Veranda”during intermission for some refreshments and then “sit a spell” in the wooden Adirondak chairs that overlook the lake. The beautiful view, delicious gobs, cookies and other locally baked goodies are all part of the Mountain Playhouse magic too.