“How We Began”
Written by Justin Atkinson in October 2014
In the 1960’s, a group of amateur actors gathered together to hold fundraisers for Berger Hospital. They called these productions the “High-Fever Follies,” and after several years of success, many from this group decided to create an ongoing theater organization for the community.
Calling themselves the Roundtown Players, they produced William Inge’s “Picnic” in the barn at the Pickaway Country Club in August of 1967. 11 actors were found for the roles and 15 people were listed in the program as production staff. The production lasted three performances, with the final being standing room only, according to an article in Pickaway County, Ohio History, and Families 1810-2005 at the Pickaway County Historical Library. With this success, the members decided to formalize the group and they soon became a not-for-profit community theater.
The Roundtown Players produced several shows between 1967 and 1970 at the Pickaway Country Club, the old High School on South Court Street as well as a production of Agatha Christie’s “Witness for the Prosecution” at the Common Pleas Courtroom. Still, they were searching for a permanent space to grow.
The Teen Canteen had been utilizing the second-floor space at Memorial Hall for some time but decided to disband after a lack of leadership and lowering interest from the local youth. Originally designed for veteran soldiers to practice drills, with a balcony for the public to watch, the space already had a stage, though small, and ample room for seating and storage. In 1971 the county commissioners agreed to rent the space to Roundtown Players for $1 a year.
The members created a tech booth in the center of the balcony facing the stage, which is still used, with a lighting system donated by Miriam Ruggles-Adkins. Folding chairs were used for seating and bathrooms were installed. Some of the first productions included Noel Coward’s “Blythe Spirit” and Ira Wallach’s “Absence of a Cello.”
Thanks to the desire of the sixty-one original members to bring theater to Pickaway County, Roundtown Players has remained active for nearly fifty years producing dramas, mysteries, comedies, musicals, and children’s shows.