Playing in the
Woods Since 1954
Playing in the
Woods Since 1954
Oak Grove Theater
845 Quicks Mill Road (Rt 612)
In 1946 Fletcher and Margaret Collins moved to Staunton, Virginia, he to be a professor of Theater at Mary Baldwin College and she to write, and teach and raise their growing family of boys. They bought Pennyroyal Farm in nearby Verona and raised livestock and crops in their non-existent spare time.
By 1953 the college theater program was thriving. The department production schedule had students playing all female parts and community men playing the male parts. At that time, Mary Baldwin was an all women's college with no men in any of their programs.
After a few years the productions were so popular with the community that the locals didn't want to break for the summer and the idea developed to build a summer venue for the aspiring actors, directors, and technicians.
Thus was Oak Grove Theater born.
On a hilltop at Pennyroyal Farm, Fletch, Margaret, their sons and friends carved an area from a large grove of oak trees, making space for a stage, seating and parking. The harvested trees were cut for posts and planks, to make benches for the audience and stone and concrete went into a modest stage.
The first performance season was 1954. There were no dressing rooms. Actors got into costume and makeup at the farmhouse at the foot of the hill and walked through the field to get to the stage. No bathrooms, just a privy; and no storage other than an old box truck parked in the woods.
A few years later, two steel storage sheds were set near the stage for dressing and makeup and steel folding seats were installed. Over the years the steel sheds were replaced by a new dressing and makeup area, the truck by a storage and tool building, the privy by modern restrooms (although the original still exists out in the woods), and a pavilion for rainy day performances and a concession stand were added.
The concrete stage was replaced by a more forgiving wooden one, enlarged to give more acting space and incorporating a large oak tree that had grown at the back edge of the original.
For the 50th season in 2003 the steel folding seats were replaced with new, modern stadium seating.
Oak Grove is a community theater in more than name. It is a community in itself, made up of our company members and patrons, some going back to the earliest days of its existence. Many of our patrons bring dinner to shows and dine "al fresco" at the picnic tables in the parking lot before performances. It entrances almost everyone who comes there and is a home away from home for many of the company. We continually strive to keep the high standards of performance and fellowship first instilled by Fletch and Margaret.
The farm has changed hands in the last 60 years but as of 2013, Oak Grove Theater was able to purchase back a large part of the original tract of land, especially near the grove itself, ensuring that the theater can continue to thrive and grow into the future.
Fletcher and Margaret Collins (our founders)
The first light board.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - One
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Two
7 - 7