Posted by Sue Jones on Oct 19, 2018
Lucy Miller introduced today’s speakers – Helen and Norm Merrill who spoke about the Lucille Ball Little Theatre of Jamestown. They attended grade school and high school in South Dayton where their names hang proudly on the school’s Wall of Fame. They are the proud parents of two sons AND they are BOTH Paul Harris Fellow recipients.  Helen and Lucy co-founded the Junior Guiders 35 years ago.
Ms. Merrill reminisced about the beginnings of the Players Club under the leadership of Madelaine Osgood which then combined with Harriet and George Warren to form the Little Theatre of Jamestown. In 1945, the group boasted 5,400 in membership and that number is now at 800. Mrs. Merrill challenged every single Rotarian to become a member of Little Theatre by next year!
Little Theatre practiced in the building which now houses Brigiotta’s and for every performance they would bring all the sets, props and costumes to the then Scottish Rite theatre (now the Jackson Center) and practice or perform and then break down the equipment and return it to the building on Fairmount Avenue.
Finally, Marshall Dahlin and Sam Paladino identified the former Shea’s Theatre as a possible home. The building is 137 years old and started as the Allen Opera House. It was bought by the Samuels Family and then purchased by Shea’s until it closed in 1968. It remained empty for many years until Dahlin and Paladino toured it, with 18 inches of ice on the floor and a hole through the roof letting in daylight.
Under Paladino’s leadership $200,000 was raised to complete the restoration and the rest is history – a great partnership with Helen performing and directing and Norm making the sets come to life.
This past year, air conditioning was added enabling the theatre to have productions in the summer months. Coming productions include:
January – No Sex Please, We’re British
March - To Kill a Mockingbird
May – Curtains
July – Disenchanted!
Sept./Oct. – The Producers
Nov. – Harvey