History of Licking County Players
In the 50 years Licking County Players has been in existence, there have been four completely different phases in the life of this Community Theater. Phase one found the group, soon after its initial organization as the Welsh Hills Players, in the Fellowship Hall of Plymouth United Church of Christ. With the success of four productions in 1967, it was obvious that Welsh Hills Players was here to stay, and a more permanent home was needed for the budding group. A historic little Red Brick German Lutheran Church was converted into a 129 seat theater.
About 1981 after several unfortunate events, the group signed a lease with the Licking COunty Commissioners to take over the big old Auditorium Theater downtown on the Square. Although crumbling around the edges, the theater had seen all the legitimate traveling shows from the Barrymores to Ed Wynn. Welsh Hills Players was changed to Licking County Players to enhance an image of a wider theater audience in the county.
With the help of the local Jaycees, the theater was ready to open Gilbert and Sullivan's PIRATES OF PENZANCE. In researching the history of the Auditorium, the group discovered the first show in the NEW theater in 1894 was PIRATES OF PENZANCE!
For the next 12 years starting in 1984, LCP produced 5 or 6 plays a season at Founders' Hall on the campus of The Ohio State University at Newark. Costumes, materials, and props were stored in members' garages, basements, attics and even in a carriage house.
In 1996 the group purchased the former funeral home and Salvation Army building. After many repairs and renovations, the group produced 6 plays a season until the air conditioner made it possible to operate year round with a season of 8 shows. This was done along with a full schedule of Suitcase Theater, Dinner Theater and Children's Workshops.
Several memorials on the property honor past and present members: The LEN DOWNS LIBRARY, the GLENN McCUNE GARDEN, the GEORGE STOCKER STAGE AND CURTAIN, the DORIS LOWNEY LOBBY, the DEBENEDICTIS DOORWAY, the MEL SPRING LIGHT BOOTH, the RICK FIELDS MARQUEE, and BILL TUMBLIN PIANO.
With generous contributions from the community and volunteers, the group is still growing with talent, improvements, wider audiences and great success.