You may not know it but what is now the Ephrata Performing Arts Center grew from an American Leigon summer stock series started by Broadway producer John Cameron in 1953. Cameron ran the series for 19 years, bringing in world-renowned actors including Betty White, Robert DeNiro, and Roy Schneider. John Cameron departed in 1972 and a group of volunteer citizens filled his role and began to produce and present plays to preserve the tradition of what had become known as “The Playhouse in the Park”. After incorporating into a non-profit in 1979, the organization became the Ephrata Center for the Performing Arts in 1980.
Once an outdoor stage in Leigon Park, The Sharadin Bigler Theater has been renovated and is now an all-year-round performance venue. The theater highlights many up-and-coming actors, including Tony-nominated Actor Jonathan Groff, known as Kristoff in Frozen, and King George in Hamilton. Groff is a native of Lancaster and got his start on the Sharadin Bigler stage. In 2021, following a year that included COVID-19, a fire, and a flood, EPAC put on an impressive 18 productions. These included plays for school-aged children, comedies, musicals, and dramatic plays.
EPAC aims to connect the community by presenting plays and musicals that explore the shared human experience, in spite of how different we may appear from the outside. There are a variety of ways you can connect with the Performing Arts Center. EPAC offers classes for kids and adults, as well as a Center Stage Theater Camp for Kids. Auditions for upcoming productions are listed on their website for those who wish to be on stage. The Center also has a variety of volunteer opportunities for a variety of skill-sets. Those who donate their time and talents help EPAC fulfill its mission of producing “theatre that matters”. Volunteers help to ensure every aspect of the Performing Arts Center runs smoothly from day-to-day operations to productions. Find a full list of volunteer opportunities here.
If you haven’t visited the Ephrata Performing Arts Center, we recommend adding it to your bucket list for 2022! Up to date information about upcoming productions or auditions can be found via EPAC’s Facebook page, and the 2022 season will soon be announced. If you can, consider supporting EPAC through volunteering or via a donation to their annual fund to help them continue their work as a cultural hub bringing the Ephrata Community together.