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Oak Grove Theater History

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. At that time, Mary Baldwin was an all women’s college with no men in any of their programs. The productions had students playing all female parts and community men playing the male parts.

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 family 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 Founders: Fletcher & Margaret Collins

at Oak Grove Theater

Lynn Case operating the long gone,
high tech light board.

Remember – safety first.

Early Oak Grove Theater
light board and operator
First Season 'Brochure' for the Oak Grove Theater

The stage lights were hung from branches and the “control booth” was a board high between two trees at the rear of the audience.

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 replaced by a storage and tool building, the privy replaced by modern restrooms (although the original still exists out in the woods). A little later, a pavilion for rainy day performances and a concession stand were added.

The lights are still hung in shelters attached to the trees around the stage but a new “high tech” control booth now exists… still high up between the the trees at the rear of the audience.

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.

Audience and Tech Booth after the show
Restoration of the Oak Grove Stage in April 2014
Looking out at the audience from
the Oak Grove Theater Stage
Stadium Seats Oak Grove
Stadium Style Audience Seating at Oak Grove Theater
A view of the pavilion at Oak Grove Theater

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. The Grove 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 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.

Oak Grove Theater – Past Productions List

Playing in the Woods since 1954

• 2023
The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong
The Old Man and the Old Moon
Wait Until Dark
Hay Fever
Bonus Show: The Real Inspector Hound
• 2022
Two on the Aisle, Three in a Van
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder
Little Wars
Run for Your Wife
• 2021
Private Lives
Forbidden Broadway (Streamed Online)
Clue On Stage

For the first time since 1954 the Grove didn’t perform an in-person season of live shows.
We went online with special performances, short plays, history and Grove stories from Grovers old and new!
• 2019

The Hollow
Singin’ in the Rain
45 Seconds from Broadway
End of the Rainbow
Young Frankenstein
• 2018
Is He Dead
A Doll’s House
Spitfire Grill
Good People
Love, Lies, & The Doctor’s Dilemma
• 2017
Rex’s Exes
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Jesus Christ Superstar
Calendar Girls
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
•    2016
Noises Off!
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
My Favorite Year (The Musical)
There’s a Burglar in My Bed
•    2015
Other Desert Cities
The Cripple of Inishmaan
Don’t Dress for Dinner
•    2014
Man of La Mancha
The 39 Steps
•    2013
I Hate Hamlet
Crimes of the Heart
Our Town
Perfect Crime
•    2012
Unnecessary Farce
Agnes of God
South Pacific
Brighton Beach Memoirs
The Red Velvet Cake War
•    2011
Cactus Flower
She Loves Me!
Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Be My Baby
•    2010
Lunch Hour
Going to St. Ives
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Prelude to a Kiss
Arsenic and Old Lace
•    2009
God’s Favorite
The Miss Firecracker Contest
Pajama Game
Ordinary People
Go Back For Murder
•    2008
Honestly Now
Jake’s Women
Die Fledermaus
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
The Underpants
•    2007
No Time For Sergeants
The Constant Wife
A Talent For Murder
Donkeys’ Years
•    2006
The Importance of Being Earnest
Of Mice and Men
Of Thee I Sing
Steel Magnolias
Taking Steps
•    2005
It Runs In The Family
The Lady’s Not For Burning
Guys and Dolls
The Nerd
Barefoot In The Park
•    2004
Impossible Marriage
HMS Pinafore
The Crucible
No Sex Please, We’re British
•    2003
Blithe Spirit
Under Milkwood
The Rainmaker
•    2002
The Butler Did It
Calamity Jane
The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-moon Marigolds
Lend Me A Tenor
•    2001
Dearly Departed
Impolite Comedy
Henry IV
On Golden Pond
•    2000
Once Upon A Mattress
Last of the Red Hot Lovers
The Real Inspector Hound/Black Comedy
The Diviners
The Last Night of Ballyhoo
•    1999
Out of Order
An Ideal Husband
•    1998
Private Lives
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
The Taming of the Shrew
Dames At Sea
•    1997
It Runs In the Family
Love Is A Daisy
Into The Woods
The Lion In Winter
The Foreigner
•    1996
Little Old Ladies In Tennis Shoes
Forever Plaid
Member of the Wedding
•    1995
Little Shop of Horrors
A Streetcar Named Desire
Twain by the Tale
Born Yesterday
Man of La Mancha
•    1994
Social Security
Sweeney Todd
King Lear
I’m Not Rappaport
•    1993
Night of the Iguana
Fiddler On The Roof
Lettice and Lovage
Catch Me If You Can
•    1992
Lend Me A Tenor
Table Manners
The Anastasia File
Bullshot Crummond
•    1991
Goodbye Charlie
Wait Until Dark
Big River
Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
•    1990
Something’s Afoot
Lady Windermere’s Fan
The Canterbury Tales
Blood Wedding
Relatively Speaking
•    1989
Plaza Suite
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Educating Rita
Anything Goes
•    1988
Noises Off
A Thousand Clown
Playboy of the Western World
Pirates of Penzance
Crimes of the Heart
•    1987
Chapter II
The Runner Stumbles
The Master Builder
A Shot In the Dark
•    1986
Shut Your Eyes and Think Of England
The Grass Harp
Ah, Wilderness
Annie Get Your Gun
The Nerd
•    1985
Same Time Next Year
Angel Street
The Robber Bridegroom
The Good Doctor
•    1984
Come Blow Your Horn
The Dining Room
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Mornings At Seven
•    1983
Arms and the Man
Blithe Spirit
The Gin Game
The Rose Tattoo
•    1982
Ten Little Indians
The Real Inspector Hound
Once Upon A Mattress
The Diary of Anne Frank
•    1981
A Bedroom Farce
The Lady’s Not For Burning
A Little Night Music
The Corn is Green
Tea House of the August Moon
•    1980
The Baron’s Will
You Know I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running
A Cry of Players
The Three Sisters
•    1979
The Misanthrope
Absurd Person Singular
You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Curious Savage
•    1978
Move Over Mrs. Markham
The Deadly Game
The Fantastics
Arsenic and Old Lace
Romeo and Juliet
•    1977
The Tempest
The Mikado
The Homecoming
Major Barbara
•    1976
Dial M For Murder
Under Milkwood
See How They Run
Plain and Fancy
George Washington Slept Here
•    1975
Peer Gynt
On Borrowed Time
Death Of A Salesman
Where’s Charlie
6 Rms Riv Vu
•    1974
Love Is A Daisy
Inherit The Wind
Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In The Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad
Twelfth Night
•    1973
A Dream Play
Kiss Me Kate
An Ideal Husband
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe
The Torchbearers
•    1972
Bliss Towers
The Devil’s Disciple
How the Other Half Loves
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum
Jack Tales (Children’s play)
•    1971
Two for the Seesaw
The Glass Menagerie
Dear Me, The Sky is Falling
Canterbury Tales
Who’s Happy Now (Stonewall Jackson) (Children’s play)
•    1970
Everybody Loves Opal
Ship of the Righteous
The Apple Tree
Twelve Angry Men
•    1969
Black Comedy
Halfway Up the Tree
On the Corner of Cherry and Elsewhere
Once Upon A Mattress
Winnie The Pooh (Children’s play)
•    1968
Uncle Vanya
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Inspector General
•    1967
The Knack
Suddenly Last Summer
Caine Mutiny Court Martial
The Marriage Proposal/Overruled
My Three Angels
•    1966
Under the Yum-yum Tree
You Never Can Tell
The Physicists
The Thirteen Clocks
•    1965
Sunday In New York
Crime on Goat Island
The Rehearsal
The Little Hut
The Fantastics
•    1964
Ring Around the Moon
The Motel and the Chicken House
The Lesson/The Typists
A Thurber Carnival
•    1963
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter
A Shot In The Dark
The Beggar’s Opera
A Siren Cast Ashore
The Pleasure of His Company
•    1962
Royal Gambit
A Chance of Love
Sabrina Fair
•    1961
The Waltz of the Toreadors
Take Away the Lady
The Deadly Game
As You Like It
The Matchmaker
•    1960
Bus Stop
The Lady and the Unicorn
Romanoff and Juliet
•    1959
Visit To A Small Planet
Do You Daydream
Arsenic and Old Lace
The Miser
Teahouse of the August Moon
Born Yesterday (Lee High & Waynesboro High)
•    1958
The Moon Is Blue
She Stoops To Conquer
The Diary Of A Scoundrel
Twelfth Night
Cinderella (Children’s play)
•    1957
A Phoenix Too Frequent and The Sabine Women
The Desperate Hours
The Ponder Heart
The Importance Of Being Earnest
Three Men On A Horse (Lee High & Waynesboro High)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Children’s play)
•    1956
Thieves Carnival
You Can’t Take It With You
The Rainmaker
Berkeley Square
Mister Roberts (Lee High & Waynesboro High)
The Wizard of Oz (Children’s play)
•    1955
Venus Observed
Love Is a Daisy
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
•    1954
Blithe Spirit
The Grass Harp
The Enchanted