Over 40 Years of Community Theatre
Oyster Mill Playhouse is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community theatre located in East Pennsboro Township, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Originally known as Metropolitan Repertory Company (or Met Rep), the organization is entirely managed by volunteers. Sharon Hillegas, Michael Hillegas, Anita Shultz, Gary Bloom and Dorothy Kovalchik founded the volunteer organization in 1976, which was incorporated two years later.
Initially, Met Rep performed where they could find a space and an audience. Beginning in 1978, the organization rented the fellowship hall in the Faith United Church of Christ in New Cumberland for nearly all productions. Volunteers expanded the existing fellowship hall stage and hung lighting instruments.
The first show performed at the church was Summertree, which was followed by Barefoot In The Park, Under the Yum Yum Tree and The Fantasticks. That season, and for several ensuing seasons, the fare was dinner theatre. Members of the group planned, cooked, served, cleaned up and then took their places onstage to perform. The years at the church highlighted new shows, old shows, controversial shows and classic shows. Met Rep was the first area community theatre to perform the play Whose Life Is It Anyway? Many blockbuster musicals were reformatted and successfully presented on the smaller stage. Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, Anything Goes, Damn Yankees, 1776 and The Pajama Game were among the many musicals received with critical acclaim.
After ten years at the Church, the Board of Directors found and purchased the Oyster Mill, which was being used to store plumbing supplies. Originally a grist mill called the Eyster Mill, the building had also been used as a general store and a dance hall. After an intense fundraising, building and remodeling project in November 1988, the 1988-1989 season opened with Barefoot In The Park. Volunteers were still spreading material in the parking lot four hours before the doors opened the doors.
Met Rep volunteers soon added a set shop to the playhouse. In 1996, a second story was added to the building as a part of a reconstruction effort required to fix damage caused by the January 1996 flood. The second story added fly space over the stage, an office, dressing rooms and both rehearsal and storage space to the small theater. A lighting and sound booth were also added to the side of the building.
After the first few seasons at the Playhouse, the Board of Directors decided to do business as Oyster Mill Playhouse and discontinue using the name Met Rep in advertising copy and press releases. Officially, however, we remain the Metropolitan Repertory Company, a volunteer group that has operated successfully for 40 consecutive years. In 2016, we celebrated our 40th anniversary of providing quality, live theatre in Central Pennsylvania, and on November 11th, 2023, we celebrated our 35th anniversary performing at Oyster Mill Playhouse.