Letters to Sala 10/15/16- Lily Lauver playing Caroline

Dear Sala,
Yesterday was such a whirlwind! I don’t think I realized the scale of what we are doing until we had an audience of kids to perform for. I hope that the kids there were able to glean even one third as much from the show as I have.
Waking up at 5:30 was a little difficult for me, but as soon as I joined the carpool of castmates, I woke up immediately! Our cast gets along really well, I have so much fun with them.
The first show went very smoothly because our set was already set up at Sewickley Academy, and most of the props were set as well. The technical aspects of the show were perfect! During the talk back was when the impact of the show hit me the most. Other than younger kids asking us what our names are and things like that, lots of the questions were history based, asking about Sala’s life after the war, asking about her family, and asking about other characters that they had followed through the show. I think that the importance of using theater to tell this story is that we can show the kids that these people were people. To say that six million Jews died during the Holocaust is such a blinding statistic. Especially at a young age, it is impossible to put that number into perspective, but by knowing the individual stories of survivors, and knowing survivors’ stories of the people that perished, we can better imagine the horrible effect of the Holocaust.
After packing up the van from the first show, we were treated to lunch at Panera by the Classrooms Without Borders representatives. Talking to them at lunch, I realized how much of an impact the organization has.
Our second show was at North Allegheny Intermediate School. I was most nervous for the second show because it was my first time acting with a microphone, and I think it was the first time with microphones for a couple other cast members, too. There was no need to worry, because the microphones were great. I am constantly impressed with our traveling techie; Jenny! She is on top of things. Jena, our wonderful director, works the lights, and Jenny works the sound.
We packed up the second show, had a little briefing about our next week of shows, and I hopped in my carpool with our incredible stage manager, Jill, her daughter Lindy, and my stage sister, Julia. We laughed all along the way back to Julia’s house, and she took me the rest of the way home. Today was a great day! I am proud of the work we are doing with the legacy that you have left us, Sala! Thank you.
Love, Lily


Letters to Sala Blog 10/13/16

Dear Sala,
                   In March of 2015, Little Lake was making plans for a production of The Diary of Anne Frank for our fall educational show. We had done the show once before with great success and wanted to bring a performance about the Holocaust to our audiences. Then the Pittsburgh Public Theatre announced a production of Diary of Anne Frank for that exact time. This threw a major wrinkle into the plan. Committed to the subject of the Holocaust, we began the search for a new play.
                Sunny Disney Fitchett, our artistic director at the time, stumbled across a copy of Letters to Sala by Arlene Hutton. Loving another play by this playwright, Last Train to Nibroc, we began to read.  Little did we know that this small, red covered script would launch us on a nearly two year journey to tell your amazing story.
                 We began rehearsals for Little Lake’s initial performance in late September ’15. The cast of 17 actors was assembled and we began to read- the play, the book “Sala’s Gift,” research about you and your family, research about the labor camps, information about Sosnowiec… We read as much as we could in preparation for this play. And the more we read, the more we became connected to the people of this story, your friends and family. It became clear that we had a mission to be the voice of these people who could no longer speak on their own, people who’s voices live through the letters.
                  The show opened at the end of October. Night after night, audiences left our theatre having been deeply impacted by the story, by your bravery and the lives of those who wrote to you. And we grew more and more excited for the groups of school children to see this show. Our first student performance was on October 28th, exactly 75 years to the day of your leaving for the camps. The anniversary did not pass by the cast without notice. If possible, we became more protective of your story and our responsibility to tell it.
                    Three hundred students attended our two student matinees, sponsored by Classrooms Without Borders. They listened and felt and thought and responded. They asked smart questions during our talk backs and continued the discussion about your letters in their classrooms long after the play was over.
                    We completed our three week run of the show and no one was quite the same after. Our lives had been changed from this experience. We knew there was more to be done, more story to be told. None of us seemed ready to let this story go. I know I certainly wasn’t.
                    Then Classrooms Without Borders proposed we partner to take the production on tour to area schools so that more students could learn about you and your letters. Questions began to flood my thoughts- was this possible? Are we crazy? How do we take this production on the road? How do we travel with a 17 person cast? When? What really would be involved?
                  And now, a year later, the tour is a reality. Nine actors have returned to join the cast and we have welcomed seven new actors to the team. We have worked with the playwright to shorten the performance to the length required by the schools for in-school performances. We have rehearsed for four weeks, brushed off the costumes, unpacked the props and incorporated projections to add visual impact. We are ready! We are about to tell your amazing story again. What an honor and awesome responsibility.
                    Tomorrow, Friday October 14th, we start on our journey. The questions are still there- what should we expect? How do we adapt to doing performances in ten very different theatre spaces? Have we done the story justice? What will be the impact?
                 One thing remains constant- we love you and can not wait to share your story with thousands of students over the next month! You inspire us! And so we dedicate this journey to you!
Jena Oberg, director of Letters to Sala

A message from our Board

To our dearest subscribers, volunteers, actors, directors, apprentices, staff, and patrons,

The Little Lake Theatre Company Board of Directors is proud to announce our new Artistic Director- Ms. Jena Oberg! Jena has currently been our Production Manager, as well as part of our artistic team during this transition time. Jena is a familiar face as she has been part of the Little Lake family for 20 seasons. She has served in many capacities from actor to camp director to mainstage director, and more. Her experience and expertise in many areas of artistic direction, from her education, to her technical knowledge, to her experience with many actors and theatre companies make her an exceptional choice for our new Artistic Director. The board is honored to have Jena Oberg take the reins of Little Lake Theatre Company and drive us into the future. Please help us welcome and congratulate Jena Oberg to her new role- Little Lake Theatre Company’s Artistic Director.

Little Lake Theatre’s 68th Season is off to a wonderful start! We are delighted to be serving up a season filled with light-hearted comedy, madcap adventure, and sweet romances. Anna in the Tropics was a great artistic success. Audiences fell in love with the hilarious comedy, Jeeves Intervenes . They were whisked away to sunny Italy on an adventure of romance, laughter and a refreshment of the spirit in Enchanted April . They learned that “there’s no business like show business” with Light Up the Sky . And the rest of our season promises to be just as entertaining.

This summer, join Jean Brodie as she fights fiercely for her “girls,” her job, and her honor in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie . Become an accomplice as Hal and Dennis struggle to find a place to hide their stolen money in Joe Orton’s dark comedy, Loot . Discover it is never too late to fall in love with the U.S. premiere of A Fine Bright Day Today .

Later in the season, be a part of an absurd love triangle with Luv . Revel with impish Puck as he meddles in the lives of lovesick runaways and feuding fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Remember the sweetness of new love in Last Train to Nibroc . And celebrate the holidays at Little Lake with a new comic adaptation of A Christmas Carol , a treat for the whole family.

And don’t forget our plays for young audiences! Join us this summer for a magical adaptation of Beauty and the Beast , and a world premiere play, A Surprise for Lydia . Discover that anyone can be a star with our Fall Family Matinee production of Fancy Nancy, the Musical .

Do you have a favorite Little Lake memory or funny Little Lake story? We would like to hear from you. You can pick up a “My Little Lake” card from the box office or email your story to us at We have had a blast reading the stories that have already been submitted.

To those of you who are new to Little Lake Theatre, welcome! We hope you enjoy The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and that Little Lake will become like family to you as well. We are so excited to share this season with you.


Kathy DeBlassio

President, Little Lake Board of Directors

Inspecting Carol: “Like watching your family perform!”


We have arrived! Little Lake Theatre Company will proudly present its final show of the 2015 Main Stage Season this Thursday, December 3, and it’s a hilariously chaotic Christmas tale that will send audiences into the holiday season with smiles on their faces. The play, Inspecting Carol by Daniel Sullivan and The Seattle Repertory Theatre, is a satirical take on your typical Christmas show, featuring a struggling theatre company and its dire attempts to pull together a holiday show and keep its funding for future seasons!

Director Jena Oberg is confident that Little Lake patrons in particular – whose love of theatre runs deep – will especially enjoy this sidesplitting commentary on Christmastime at the theatre.

In the midst of preparing the large cast of Inspecting Carol for their upcoming opening weekend, Oberg shared her thoughts on directing a variety of genres over the course of a season, why this play is the perfect end to the year, and what her stellar cast brings to the stage this time around.

Q: You’ve directed two dramas and a romantic comedy this season, and now, you’ve got an upbeat, robust holiday comedy on your hands! Talk about how you approach various genres.

A: As a director, I love getting to work on a variety of genres. It stretches your skills and lets you tell many different stories. This script is hilarious and fast-paced, and directing a comedy like this one requires attention to the pace and flow of events. Every joke has a specific timing, and you need to find that in working on the show.

Q: What challenges were posed by this play in particular?

A: The biggest challenge in this play is that the second act is really dependent on a specific set and action happening around that set. We have been rehearsing in a room without that set, and so we’ve had to imagine it for the time being, which is a challenge. Getting on to the stage and finally figuring out where things would actually be was great!

Q: Why is Inspecting Carol going to be a great cap to the 2015 Main Stage Season?

A: This play is such a funny diversion to a busy holiday season. It will be two hours long just because of the pauses audiences will take to laugh. Anyone who has participated in theatre as a performer, director, designer, or audience member will appreciate the challenges the fictional theatre company in Inspecting Carol faces. Plus, this company has a really new twist on the classic A Christmas Carol, which is hilarious to anyone familiar with Dicken’s original. (There are also some really fun parallels with Sunny’s theatrical take on Our Town, which started the season!).

Q: Let’s talk cast and characters! Will audiences see any first-timers to the Little Lake stage?

There are a few first timers to the Lake in this show. Max Andrae, who plays child actor Luther (AKA Tiny Tim), has been in several Looking Glass Theatre children’s shows but never on the Main Stage. He is the son of actress Leah Hillgrove, who is a Little Lake regular and appeared this season in Letters to Sala. Since Max was about four years old, he would come to those rehearsals with his mom, so it is so much fun to now have him a part of the holiday show.

Actor Kevin Moore is also new to the Lake. He plays Walter, the newest actor in the fictional struggling theatre company, who is hired to play every single one of the ghosts in their version of A Christmas Carol. Kevin is hilarious and so creative, and I think audiences will love getting to know him.

We also have many regular favorites in the show: Art DeConciliis, Mary Meyer, Bill Bennett, Marianne Shaffer, Jenny Malarkey, Ross Kobelak, Eric Leslie, Rick Bryant, Julia Paul, and Jen Kopach. This cast works so seamlessly together and has me in hysterics every rehearsal. For loyal audience members, with so many favorites onstage, it will feel like watching your family perform!

Join Little Lake in celebrating the holidays and the end of another season by coming to see Inspecting Carol! The show runs December 3-5; 10-12; and 17-19. Tickets can be purchased online at or by contacting the Box Office at (724) 745-6300.