Gretna Theatre’s mission is to grow community by producing and presenting live, professional theatre
that engages, transforms, entertains and educates.
One of south-central Pennsylvania’s few professional theatres, and one of the oldest summer theatres in America, Gretna Theatre is located in the arts/resort community of Mt. Gretna, PA where theatre has been produced at this same location since 1927! The original Playhouse dates back to 1892 when it was built as the centerpiece of the newly-created Pennsylvania Chautauqua.
The Chautauqua Movement was founded in the late 1800’s by Lewis Miller and John Vincent, from New York, who shared a vision of providing education to people of all ages and backgrounds. “Chautauqua” is an American Indian word with a few meanings— “a bag tied in the middle” or “two moccasins tied together,” and describes the shape of Chautauqua Lake, in southwest New York. This area was the setting for the first 'remote' educational assembly, and the white Christian migrants adopted that name for their movement. There, they started a summer camp for teachers, offering recreation, classes on religion and music, plays, and philosophy that provided an alternative to college. The Chautauqua Movement quickly spread to towns throughout the country. In 1891, a group of community leaders decided to organize the Pennsylvania Chautauqua in Mt. Gretna “for the advancement of literary and scientific attainment among the people and the promotion of popular culture in the interest of Christianity.”
The Playhouse, known originally as the Chautauqua Auditorium, was designed by John Cilley, a civil engineer from Lebanon, and completed in July, 1892. With fewer events being held in the Auditorium, the Chautauqua Board of Managers contacted A. E. Scott, an actor and director from the Fulton Theatre in Lancaster, and suggested that Scott start a summer theater in Gretna. In the spring of 1927, the necessary alterations were made to the Chautauqua Auditorium to provide stage and dressing rooms and the first season of theater at Mt. Gretna opened in mid-June. Over the years, The Playhouse survived many natural disasters, including several major hurricanes, but the winter of 1994 proved to be too much for the 102-year-old structure. On February 12, its roof buried under an estimated 150 tons of snow, collapsed.
By the summer of 1995, a new Playhouse was complete. Gretna Theatre, which produces the seasons of summer stock theatrical shows, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which rents the Mt. Gretna Playhouse for its productions and works in conjunction with the professional unions of Actors' Equity Association and Stage Directors and Choreographers. Many Broadway stars have performed at Gretna Theatre - including Bernadette Peters, Charton Heston, Faith Prince, Laurie Beechman, and Sally Struthers.
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Patrick Castagna, President
Retired President - Carlos R. Leffler, Inc.
Lois Brommer Duquette, Vice President
Attorney - McNees Wallace & Nurick
James G. Cassel, Treasurer
Partner - RKL, LLP
Stephen R. Gibble, Secretary
Owner - Gibble Law Offices
Mark A. Bonsall, F.S.A.,
Partner, Consulting Actuary - Conrad Siegel Actuaries
David Bronstein, D.O.
Retired Physician - Bronstein & Jeffries
Retired President - Flury Foundry Co.
Retired Executive Vice President - Glenmede Trust
President - Arthur Funk & Sons, Inc.
President & CEO - Hoaster Gebhard & Co. Insurance
Douglass C. Henry, Jr.
President & CEO - Henry Molded Products, Inc.
Wendie DiMatteo Holsinger
President & CEO - ASK Foods, Inc.
Lynn G. Phillips, EdD
Retired, Senior Director & COO - Wharton Executive Education
Marcia Ostfeld Shivoder
IT Executive and Management Consultant