The Round Barn Theatre
Coordinates: The Round Barn Theatre is a non-Equity regional theatre located in Nappanee, Indiana. It is part of Amish Acres, a historic farm and heritage resort. Amish Acres is owned by founders Richard and Susan Pletcher. Jennifer Wysong serves as president. The Pletchers are the producers of The Round Barn Theatre. The building is a round barn built in 1911 that was dismantled and relocated at the farm in 1998. It was moved twelve miles (19 km) from its original location. To meet state building codes a thirty-two ton six-inch (152 mm) tubular steel frame was erected and the original studs, compression rings, rafters, and cupola were reassembled attached to the frame. The barn is sixty feet in diameter and stands sixty feet tall to the top of the cupola. Insulation is sandwiched between new barn siding inside and outside the frame. A post and beam straw shed that was added to the structure shortly after its construction was also moved intact to become the proscenium stage for the theatre. Robert Holdeman, AIA, of Traverse City, Michigan designed the plans that converted the barn into a state of the art performing arts center. Ninety-six dimmer circuits provide theatre lighting and a sound system using Audiotechnica cordless microphones provide the required tools for the lighting and sound designers. The stage is outfitted with a counterweight fly system. The orchestra is housed in a loft open to the audience. The seating capacity in the orchestra, mezzanine, and balcony is four hundred.
Plain and Fancy
The Round Barn Theatre is the National Home of Plain and Fancy, the 1955 Broadway musical that ran for 461 performances. It won the Olivier Award during its subsequent extended run in London. It has been produced at Amish Acres since 1986 in two venues. It first opened in The Locke Township Meeting House with four actors, an upright piano, six-inch (152 mm) elevated stage, no sets, and 150 seats. It ran for eight weeks. The production was subsequently enhanced in the space with the addition of lighting dimmers, the run was extended and the cast rose to nine. Composer Albert Hague and his wife Rene visited Amish Acres to view the production in 1988. Following the construction of The Round Barn Theatre, Plain and Fancy moved to its current home. The theatre was designed with only the continued and expanded production of Plain and Fancy as its goal. Joseph Stein, the show's author, and his wife Elisa were invited to visit the theatre in 1995. With his encouragement the theatre entered the world of repertory theatre a year later. Plain and Fancy continued in nearly daily rotation with a scheduled season of six to eight week runs of additional Broadway classic musicals. The stage was dedicated to Mr. Stein during the theatre's production of The Baker's Wife in 1997.
Plain and Fancy has been performed over 3,500 times over the last twenty one years to audiences totally nearly 300,000. The York Theatre in New York City acknowledged The Round Barn Theatre's accomplishment in the program during its reading of Plain and Fancy in its 2006 Musicals in Mufti series.
Since 1996 over eighty musicals have been produced on The Round Barn Theatre stage. The theatre now includes its own costume shop, rehearsal studio, and scenic shop in the adjacent Cow Shed building. The stage has been remodeled several times to accommodate the expanded requirements of repertory theatre. Over 3,000 subscribers receive benefits in addition to their season tickets, including an upcoming season preview party and half priced tickets to second stage productions. Theme buffets are held four Friday evenings during each production that feature menus created to compliment the current production, complete with decorations in The Barn Loft Grill that is turned into a white tablecloth dining room for the occasions.
Joseph Stein Young Actors Studio
With Mr. Stein's enthusiastic support a young actors studio was created in 2007. The studio consists of a series of classes for children between the ages of eight and twelve. Two summer week-long day camps are conducted and coordinated with Internationsl Elderhostel intergenerational programs. A professional production cast from northern Indiana high school students is also produced. It is presented in public performance and theatre for young audience school productions. The theatre for young audience productions also include condensed versions of main stage musicals. The theatre will host a national touring company children's production for the first time in 2008.
Second Stage Productions
The brain child of Artistic Director Jeremy Littlejohn, the Second Stage first opened its doors in 2004. The Second Stage is located in the Locke Township Meeting House down the hall from the Round Barn. The vision of the Second Stage is to bring non musical works to the Round Barn audience in an intimate environment, stripped down to the essentials, in order to focus on the acting and writing of each author's work. Second Stage Productions include Tennessee William's The Glass Menagerie, Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy, Joseph Stein's Enter Laughing, Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias, Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, and Yasmina Reza's Art. In 2008 the Second Stage produced Thorton Wilder's Our Town as the first ever straight play on The Joseph Stein Stage. 2009 became a banner year for the Second Stage when Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park became the first straight play to be incorporated as part of the Round Barn Theatre's main stage season. In addition to its work in the Locke the Second Stage has produced notable Staged Readings of Take Me Along, Anne of Green Gables, The Spitfire Grill, Rags, Floyd Collins and Carmelina. These costumed readings were performed on The Joseph Stein Stage and featured a full cast of actors and orchestra.
Auditions and cast
The acting company is cast from annual auditions held in New York City, Chicago, and Nappanee. The core company that performs Plain and Fancy and each of the repertory shows is housed on the farm's grounds in three houses. Equity guest artists often perform leading roles in classic musicals. Regional actors and interns often perform chorus roles.