The Little Lake Theater’s decision to have performances in an outdoor space in the first part of its next season is a nod to the reality of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but it also brings back the venerable community theater company. of Washington County to where she once belonged.
During a Tuesday morning media preview, Little Lake Artistic Director Jena Oberg pointed out that Little Lake found its legs over 70 years ago in a barn that still stands on the property and, in its early days , the company has also staged productions outdoors.
“We’re excited to get back to our roots,” Oberg said.
The first performance in the Little Lake outdoor space will be the one-man show “Shirley Valentine,” by British playwright Willy Russell. Opening May 20, it’s a comedy about a working-class housewife from Liverpool, England, who is stuck in a rut but finds her life transformed after a trip to Greece. Oberg explained that “Shirley Valentine,” with its themes of stagnation and renewal, was a fitting way to start the season as everyone slowly shakes off the isolation brought by COVID-19.
In fact, the new season of Little Lake will largely avoid heavier fare, as well as shows with a large cast.
“It’s all comedic, fun, and lighthearted,” Oberg said.
2020 was the first year in its history that Little Lake was unable to perform in person. At first, the first three productions were canceled, then another couple, and as the pandemic dragged on, the planned 15 in-person productions disappeared. Like many other theater companies, Little Lake hosted shows online to maintain revenue and audience engagement.
“In Washington County, we have a lot of people interested in cultural activities, and it’s good that (Little Lake Theater) is coming back,” Washington County Commissioner Larry Maggi said. “Little Lake Theater has been a mainstay in Washington County.”
Little Lake will use the outdoor performance space until September. It will accommodate approximately 120 people. Members of the public will be kept away and masks will be required until Pennsylvania’s mask mandate is lifted. Performance will continue rain or shine unless lightning and thunder are nearby and winds reach the 50 mph range. The rest of the season is as follows:
- “Forbidden Broadway Greatest Hits,” June 10-19;
- “Envie de voyage”, from July 1 to 11;
- “Disney Frozen Jr.”, July 22-31;
- “Mrs. Way”, August 12-21;
- “Show People”, from September 2 to 11;
- “Honk!”, September 23-Oct. 2;
- “And Then There Were None,” October 14-23;
- “Rumors,” Nov. 4-13;
- “Madeline’s Christmas”, 26 Nov.-Dec. 5;
- “Christmas Belles”, December 9-18.