Round Barn Theatre Celebrates Plain and Fancy's 25th Anniversary
The Round Barn Theatre at Amish Acres is celebrating its 25th anniversary of Plain and Fancy which opens May 28 and runs through October 22. With over 3,500 performances before audiences totaling 355,000, Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres over the last two decades has become one of the longest running musicals of all time, with more performances than the original Broadway runs of Hello, Dolly!, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma!, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and The Music Man, fewer than 200 performances less than Fiddler on the Roof itself.
Plain and Fancy is the heartwarming tale of a sophisticated New York couple that experiences a glimpse of life and love on an Amish farm. Written by Joseph Stein, Plain and Fancy opened on Broadway in 1955 where it ran for 462 performances.
The musical began at Amish Acres as a cooperative effort with Jill Stover and the Enchanted Hills Playhouse. The first season's eight week production featured just four actors and a single piano on a tiny stage in a replica of the Locke Township Meeting House at Amish Acres.
Now a quarter of a century later, Plain and Fancy has become the seed that blossomed into a major regional theatre which has produced ninety main stage musicals, numerous second stage readings, dramas, and a slate of theatre for young audience productions for schools plus week long summer day camps.
A series of musical concerts is intertwined into each season's eclectic mix. It is by far northern Indiana's busiest stage, often with two shows running in repertory, a third show in rehearsal, a midweek concert, and school productions. The acting company and artistic staff are assembled from auditions across the country. The resident company lives in three houses on the Amish Acres campus.
25th Anniversary Reunion
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Over 500 actors have performed in Plain and Fancy over its 24-year span. A reunion will be hosted by Amish Acres on Saturday, July 16 in conjunction with the conclusion of the Joseph Stein Young Actors Studio children's camp. The students in the week long day camp will conclude their week by performing in the main stage matinee performance of Plain and Fancy.
Returning actors and artistic staff members will be invited to join both casts on stage for an encore of the show's signature songs. A number of alumni have gone on to star on Broadway and international tours since their time at Amish Acres.
Perry Ojeda starred in the 1998 revival of Leonard Bernstein's On the Town, Jerry O'Boyle has starred as Edna Turnblad in the international tour of Hair Spray for the last three years, and Kent Lewis recently performed in the Broadway in Chicago production of Billy Elliott and is in the current run in Toronto.
Among others, Laura Freeman has become a fixture on the Chicago stage and cabaret circuit and is currently featured in "Sentimental Journey: The Music Of Doris Day" at the Wilmette Theatre and Maxim's in Chicago.
The season is dedicated to Joseph Stein, the author of Plain and Fancy and Fiddler on the Roof, for whom The Round Barn Theatre's stage is named. Mr. Stein died in October of 2010 at the age of 98. A memorial fund has been established to extend the influence of the Joseph Stein Young Actors Studio which presents Theatre for Young Audiences productions to school groups. The studio has been expanded into summer week long day acting camps, national touring children's productions, and now free season tickets for kids.
The pace of Plain and Fancy's growth quickened dramatically in 1991 with the completion of The Round Barn Theatre which increased the show's seating capacity from 150 to 400. The theatre achieved national prominence with the United States Postal Service's dedication of its commemorative Amish Quilt Stamps in 2001 and its recognition by the York Theatre in New York City during its presentation of the Oscar Hammerstein Lifetime Achievement Award to Stein in 2007. In addition, Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres was recently featured in the book "Building the Successful Theatre Company" by Lisa Mulcahy.
Symbolic of the round barn itself, the anniversary production has come full circle when the 2011 season opened with The Old Rugged Cross written by Dennis McKeen who played Papa Yoder and Peter Raber in the original production of Plain and Fancy and is now a successful actor, producer, and playwright.
2011 Anniversary Season
This milestone anniversary season is chocked full of Broadway favorites, off-Broadway hits, and new works including Hello, Dolly!, Ring of Fire - the music of Johnny Cash, Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming, The Odd Couple, and for the Holidays 'Tis the Season A Holiday Spectacular along with A Christmas Carol set to music.
Additional tie-ins during the year-long celebration include commemorative hex signs and dolls, a quilt garden called "Blue Bird Thing Garden" using the Blue Bird featured in Plain and Fancy plus a matching $1,000 hand-made quilt to be given away at the conclusion of the season. More...
Enter HERE for the quilt givaway!
Also in honor of Plain and Fancy's silver anniversary, visitors from near and far will enjoy a $99 all-inclusive getaway package that includes Lodging, Breakfast, Lunch, Family Style Threshers Dinner, Live Theatre, Tours, Films, Shopping Coupons and more.
The Original Broadway Cast
Once upon a time, a simple, unpretentious and tuneful musical comedy could arrive on Broadway, delight audiences for a year, make money, then depart for the road, summer stock, and the community theatre circuits, making way for the next new musical. Plain and Fancy is a choice example of the kind of expert, enjoyable, professional show that was standard fare on Broadway in the 1950s and, today, is very nearly nonexistent. More...