Totem Pole Playhouse

June 01, 2000

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. - Fifty years. Five decades. More than 400 productions seen by thousands of theatergoers.

Totem Pole Playhouse marks a milestone this weekend in celebration of its golden anniversary.

"It's a great accomplishment for them to have survived that long," said actress Jean Stapleton. She was part of Totem Pole, and Totem Pole was part of her for nearly 30 years. Her late husband William H. "Bill" Putch was the theater's second producer/director.

Associate Artistic Director Wil Love is celebrating his 30th anniversary at Totem Pole. He joked that he started when he was in junior high school. "I had no idea I'd be here 30 years," he said.

Carl Schurr, producing artistic director, first came to Totem Pole as an actor in 1975. In "The Good Doctor," the season opener, he will star as The Writer, narrating and occasionally becoming a character within the Anton Chekhov stories presented in the Neil Simon play. Schurr described the role as one of his favorites. Love is also in the show.


Five more plays will be presented this summer. That's 48 hours of rehearsal and a two-week run for each show.

"We must be nuts," Schurr said.

But Love believes that creative juices flow under pressure. "Some of our best work is done here," he said.

Totem Pole Playhouse is small. Although they curse the lack of space, Schurr believes that it also is a blessing. "We can see everyone all the time."

Another advantage is that actors get to play a lot of different types of characters and roles, Love said.

"We really believe in company and the magic of seeing the versatility of the actors," Schurr said.

"We know that what we do can only happen if we're a team," Schurr added.

See also:

-- Totem Pole Playhouse

-- Season opens with 'The Good Doctor'

-- Caledonia Theatre Company raises funds for playhouse

-- Area theater marks 50 year milestone

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