In 1974, Eleanor Lantzy initiated the revitalization of a pre-Civil War barn between Cresson and Loretto as a theatre. She was determined that the project would be handled in a sensible, efficient, and lasting manner.
Eleanor created Cresson Lake Playhouse, Inc. as a professionally-directed, not-for-profit theatre company. Fund-raising efforts began, and by spring, the playhouse had contributions of more than $6,000. The funds were used for renovation of the barn and general operating expenses. The Leifsta Corporation, owners of the property, gave the theatre company a rent-free lease. Improvements began, volunteers were recruited, and Cresson Lake Playhouse became a reality.
From 1974 to 1981, the playhouse presented three to four productions annually including five original productions highlighting the region’s heritage, culture, and history. The five original productions were Prince Among Priests, Out of the Dark, Mountain Myths, Tycoon, and Local Color. It was during this period that the theatre began to receive funding from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In April 1982, the company moved from being a “summer theatre group” to production of a six-play season from April through November. Attendance grew, and by the year 1989 the number had risen to more than 20,000 patrons annually.
The initial budget of $6,000 has expanded to almost $200,000. Performances have increased from two productions in 1974 to nine productions currently.
Artistic Director Paul Seymour’s goal is to become a magnet for both theatre-goers and theatre artists in the area. He adds, “CLP has been here for more than 40 years. It’s time for us to re-assert our identity as a community treasure that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in our region.”