America's Best History Spotlight 

On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area.  And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find.  You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't.  It'll be fun.  Visit them.

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Totem Pole Playhouse
Caledonia, Pennsylvania

Summer Stock Theatre
Totem Pole Playhouse

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What is There Now

Totem Pole Playhouse


What's There

Historic Theatre in the Woods.
350 Seats.  Indoor.

Perfomances by some of the nation's best actors and actresses in four productions.

Matinees on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.

Evening performances on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.

Free shuttle service from Gettysburg (14 miles) for the evening performances.

Theatre Camps.

When Did it Open

1951

How Much for Tickets

Individual Tickets
Plays $30-45
Musicals $30-50

* Junior tickets (5-14 yrs. old) 30% off

Subscriptions
Adult $108-$171
Junior $84-133

Hours Open

Summer season runs May 30 to August 31. Christmas program at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg December 11-21.

How to Get There

Easy access from Route 81, taking the Route 30 exit east toward Gettysburg.  Ten miles from Chambersburg.  From Route 15 in Gettysburg, take Route 30 west through town, approximately 14 miles outside Gettysburg.  Turn south on Route 233.  The playhouse is on your left hand side only 150 yards off Route 30 on Route 233.

Website:  Totem Pole Playhouse

     


Reenactors leading the public at the Iron Brigade Battle Walk, Gettysburg 150th Anniversary


History Along the Way You Might Like


Gettysburg National Military Park, 14 Miles east.

Caledonia State Park, including the remnants of the Caledonia Iron Works and Blacksmith Shop owned by Thaddeus Stevens and burned on the Confederate path to Gettysburg.  Across Route 30 from playhouse.

Michaux State Forest surrounds Caledonia State Park.  The Appalachian Trail winds through the forest and park.  There is free primitive camping in Micheaux and fee campground camping at Caledonia.

Mister Ed's Elephant Museum, between Caledonia and Gettysburg.


Caledonia Iron Works Blacksmith Shop





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About Them

Totem Pole Playhouse


Sometimes it's the unrecognized gem of a visitor attraction you come across when you least expect it.  It pops out of the woods along the roadside as you look for signs of more popular places.  And for some reason, you stop.  Because of a name.  Because it seems different.  Because it seems fun.  All of those things apply as you trace your way, likely to Gettysburg National Military Park, from Interstate 81 in Chambersburg down Lincoln Highway Route 30 from the west.  And there it is. The Totem Pole Playhouse, snuggled in the woods of Caledonia State Park with a summer stock program to regail even the most jaded critic.

The Totem Pole Playhouse has been playing host to theatre goers since 1951, and each summer puts on a playbill that includes up and coming, as well as famous actors and actresses to its quaint wood building in the pines.  This season, 2014, there was Melissa Gilbert, of Little House on the Prairie fame, in Steel Magnolias, the first production of the year as well as Ken Jenkins (Scrubs) and Jill Larson (All My Children) starting on July 18 in The Foreigners.
     
The artistic director of the theatre is Rowan Joseph, of Amazing Race fame and a variety of credits in the film, television, and theatre scene from New York to Los Angeles, and he's made it a point of making the Totem Pole a fun and enjoyable evening, or matinee, in the theatre woods.
   

Totem Pole Playhouse

Outside the 350 seat theatre sits this nice respite in the woods at the Totem Pole Playhouse, Caledonia, Pennsylvania.

The 2014 Totem Pole Playhouse Season
Steel Magnolias - May 30 to June 15
Ring of Fire - June 20 to July 13
The Foreigners - July 18 to August 3
Godspell - August 8 to August 13

The 2015 Totem Pole Playhouse Season
The Nerd - May 29 to June 14
The Will Rogers Follies - June 19 to July 12
One Slight Hitch - July 17 to August 2
Grease - August 7 to August 30

History of Summer Stock Theatre

Often held outdoors, but not here at Totem Pole, summer stock theatre emerged in 1919 at the Muny in St. Louis, Missouri, soon joined during the summer seasons of the next decade at the Manhattan Theatre Colony (Petersborough, New Hampshire), Cape Playhouse (Dennis, Massachusetts), which opened with Basil Rathbone in the lead, and the Berkshire Playhouse (Stockbridge, Massachusetts).  Some folks refer to summer stock, which is primarily an american invention, as the Straw Hat circuit.  Henry Fonda and Bette Davis made their acting debuts in the summer stock theatre program at the Cape Playhouse (photo below courtesy of the Dennis Historical Society).

For more information and history on summer stock theatre, you can read Summer Stock, An American Theatrical Phenomenom by Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco.


Cape Playhouse, Dennis, Massachusetts

 

     

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Battle of Kelly's Ford, Phelps WMA, VA
Museum of Indian Culture/Lil Le Hi Trout Nursery






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