Written by Beth Exley

In 1981, the Sawmill Theatre was opened in the museum section of the old Sawmill, using church pews and camp chairs for seating. Soon the need for a larger theater was evident. In 1984, the Verna Leith Sawmill Theatre was constructed with monies from the Appalachian Regional Commission and Pennsylvania State Appropriations. Since 1984, the Verna Leith Sawmill Theatre has hosted performances every summer. The show schedule varies from year to year depending on what groups are involved in performing. It is a normally a mixture of plays and musicals with a sprinkling of a varied event such as a ballet or cabaret.

Ambassadors of the theater, campers, and local friends and families are all invited to attend shows this season at the Verna Leith Sawmill Theatre in Cook Forest, 140 Theatre Lane, Cooksburg. The theater in the round opens with its first performance of the season on May 9. Nine different groups will perform on the weekends in the summer with closing weekend ending on August 31. Groups performing this year include the Mahoning Valley Ballet, Clarion County Home School, Clarion Community Theater, Clarion Center for the Arts, Punxsutawney Theatre, Enchante Cabaret, Knox Community Theater, Brookville Community Theater, and Reitz Theater Group.

Seats are $15 each or season tickets are available for $135.00. Evening performances begin at 8 pm and matinees are at 2 p.m. Once available, tickets may be ordered online, by calling (814) 927-6655.
A complete schedule can be found at Sawmill.org. For more information on the Sawmill and other great places to explore in the great outdoors, go to VisitPAGO.com.

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