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Hershey Area Playhouse
For history lovers few structures are as enticing as a barn.
When the Hershey Area Playgroup was looking for a home, a chance conversation about an historic barn sparked a two year journey to create a state-of-the-art, black box theatre.
With 150 years of history deep in its floorboards and timbers, the barn has a new life filled with the sounds of actors and performers delighting patrons as well as giving them hands-on opportunities to participate in the creation and production of a theatrical experience.
Made up of volunteers members produce and run five to six shows a year, and they do it for the love of theatre.
The space is long-term leased to the playhouse by its owner, Country Meadows Retirement Communities for $1 per year.
Hershey Area Playhouse runs a Theatre Academy program for youth in Grades 4-12 to learn technique, show tune repertoire, play and musical staging and choreography. But it’s the barn as a home giving structure to imaginations, of all ages, to soar.
Built in the mid 1800s, the barn was the focal point of a large fruit orchard with apple, peach and cherry trees.
In addition to its musicals and plays, Hershey Area Playhouse is available to rent for concerts, conferences, parties and other performance formats.
Beyond its agricultural roots the barn was leased to the Pennsylvania National Guard to stable cavalry horses during World War I. Grooms stayed in a room near the horses on the ground floor and a horse painting, likely created by a cavalry trooper, marks a limestone wall.
The property was recognized in the 20th century as a Derry Township historic property by the Hershey-Terry Township Historical Society.
From its purchase in 1997 by Country Meadows Retirement Communities it was used as general storage until the lease agreement and renovation as the home of Hershey Area Playhouse.