History of Oyster Mill Playhouse

The Oyster Mill Playhouse, located in East Pennsboro Township on the banks of the Conodoguinet Creek, is home to our company, the Metropolitan Repertory Company, Inc. (Met Rep).  Met Rep is a non-profit community theatre organization. Sharon Hillegas, Michael Hillegas, Anita Shultz, Gary Bloom and Dorothy Kovalchik founded our volunteer organization in 1976.  It was incorporated in 1978.

Initially, we performed where we could find a space and an audience.   Beginning in 1978 we rented the Fellowship Hall in the Faith United Church of Christ in New Cumberland for nearly all of our productions.   We expanded the existing Fellowship Hall stage, hung lighting instruments and then we were off and running.

The first show performed at the Church was SUMMERTREE, which was followed by BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, UNDER THE YUM YUM TREE and THE FANTASTICKS.   That season, and for several ensuing seasons, the fare was dinner theatre.  Members of the group planned, cooked, served, cleaned up and then took their places onstage to perform.  The years at the Church were sprinkled with new shows, old shows, controversial shows and classic shows.  Met Rep was the first area community theatre to perform the play WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY?. Many blockbuster musicals were reformatted and successfully presented on the smaller stage.  OKLAHOMA, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, ANYTHING GOES, DAMN YANKEES, 1776 and THE PAJAMA GAME were among the many musicals received with critical acclaim.

After ten years at the Church, the Met Rep Board of Directors found and purchased the Oyster Mill, which was being used to store plumbing supplies.  Originally a grist mill (Eyster Mill) the building had also been used as a general store and a dance hall.  After an intense fund-raising, building, and remodeling project, in November of 1988 we opened the 1988-1989 Season with BAREFOOT IN THE PARK in our new home, the Oyster Mill Playhouse.

Met Rep volunteers soon added a set shop to the playhouse.   In 1996 a second story was added to the building as a part of a reconstruction effort required to fix damage caused by the January 1996 flood.  The second story added fly space over the stage, an office, dressing rooms and both rehearsal and storage space to the small theater.  A lighting and sound booth were also added to the side of the building.  These changes were expensive but necessary.  We are still paying for them.

After the first few seasons at the Playhouse, we learned that our patrons were confused.  They seemed to think that Met Rep and Oyster Mill Playhouse were two different organizations.   As a result the Board of Directors decided to do business as the Oyster Mill Playhouse and discontinue using the name Met Rep in advertising copy and press releases.  However, officially we are the Metropolitan Repertory Company, Inc., a volunteer group that has operated successfully for over 30 consecutive years.   On 11 November 2008, we celebrated our 20th year in the playhouse!

Since 1976 we have presented over 200 full-length productions most of which were well received by audiences and many of which received critical acclaim.  Moreover, for the past seven years we have presented eight plays each season, more than any other non-profit theatre group in the Harrisburg area.

For more information about the playhouse, click on the "Home" button or send us an e-mail.
 

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