It will be a bittersweet summer there: After 23 years of guiding the nationally recognized summer stock troupe, producing artistic director Carl Schurr and associate artistic director Wil Love are retiring from their duties there, at the end of the 2008 season.
Schurr and Love produced, directed and acted in more than 100 productions since assuming their current positions in 1985. They are also known for their acting in regional theatres around the country.
Ray Ficca, longtime friend of Schurr and Love and a resident company member at the Playhouse, will become the artistic director in September.
Ficca has been a professional actor since 1991 in New York; Washington, DC; Virginia; Ohio; and New Jersey. He currently serves as the president of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Washington. He has been a company member at Totem Pole since 2005.
The Totem Pole has been in operation, under various leaders, for 60 years. "Carl and Wil have brought Totem Pole to the national theatre scene and have provided South Central Pennsylvania with a top notch professional theatre," Ficca previously stated. "In moving Totem Pole into the future, I will be certain to maintain the excellent professional theatre they worked so hard to create."
Schurr and Love will continue to spend summers in Caledonia, PA, and be available to be involved in productions at the Playhouse. "Totem Pole has become a second home to us," stated Schurr. "If we thought that our decades of working at this magical institution were at an end, this transition would be extremely difficult. Knowing that we will be working with Ray Ficca, current long-term Totem Pole staff, and new company and staff Ray will bring to the Playhouse is a dream come true."
Totem Pole Playhouse is one of 11 professional "resident stock theatres" in operation in the U.S. John Ritter, Mary Tyler Moore, Jean Stapleton, Curtis Armstrong and Keir Dullea have performed at Totem Pole Playhouse.
Love first came to Totem Pole in the summer of 1971 and Schurr followed in 1975. For years they worked with their predecessor, the late William H. Putch and his wife, Jean Stapleton, and their children Pam and John Putch. When William Putch died in 1983, Pam Putch, Schurr and Love guided the Playhouse through the 1984 summer season celebrating Putch's 30 years of producing professional theatre at the Caledonia State Park theatre.
In 1985 Schurr and Love became the artistic directors of Totem Pole Playhouse. In addition to overseeing the summer seasons at Totem Pole Playhouse, they staged productions that would later be moved to Philadelphia's prestigious Walnut Street Theatre.
The 2008 Totem Pole summer season will feature Ficca, Schurr and Love working together on Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure by Stephen Dietz (May 31-June 15); Lying in State by David Hyer (June 17-29); The Underpants by Steve Martin, from the play by Carl Sternheim (July 1-13); Bell, Book and Candle by John Van Druten (July 15-27); Oatmeal and Kisses by Murray Schisgal (July 29-Aug. 10); The Taffetas, the revue conceived by Rick Lewis (Aug. 12-24).