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Amphitheater completion
'beyond exciting'

By Duane Good, EDITOR

As reported in last week’s Sentinel, the public debut of the newly-constructed DeSoto Amphitheater for the Performing Arts is scheduled for Friday, July 25 at 6 p.m. The facility is located just below the center’s main building at 176 Water Company Road east of Millersburg.

Project committee chairs Carole DeSoto and Marilyn Kauffman – honorary chairman Grace Pollock died last year – are no doubt pinching themselves that a day they have anticipated for so long is coming to pass.

‘‘When fundraising for the amphitheater began six years ago, co-chair, Marilyn Kauffman and I knew the amphitheater was the last of five phases to enhance the Center – parking lot expansion, road improvements, the Bradenbaugh-Hottenstein Collections Wing, and the rain garden/ADA-accessible walkway to the amphitheater. We knew we had to be patient!’’ DeSoto said.

‘‘Now we're completing Phase Five and it's beyond exciting! Thanks go to those who supported the amphitheater from the beginning through their donations,’’ she added.

‘‘Programming and entertainment bookings are underway now that the opening of the amphitheater is a reality,’’ DeSoto said. ‘‘It opens up so many new possibilities for the Ned Smith Center as a regional destination.’’

Kauffman also noted all the added features she believes the facility will bring to the center.

‘‘It expands and enhances the various program agendas – including education, lectures, films, music, dance, art, and provides a venue for community use such as weddings, graduations and conventions,’’ she said.  

‘‘This outdoor venue has been in the overall plan from the first architectural rending (and) so realizes a dream to bring artistic endeavors over the mountain and into our picturesque valleys,’’ Kauffman added. ‘‘Listening to beautiful music or an interesting speaker in a quiet, comfortable setting, overlooking a burbling creek and a lush, green mountain, is good for the soul and it is in our backyard.’’

Additional events planned. Apart from the debut event, the first official performance in the new amphitheater will be a concert by the locally-based rock ensemble Shotgunn, Friday August 8 at 7:30 p.m.

‘‘Shotgunn came highly recommended by Erin Margerum, a member of the Center’s Arts and Entertainment committee,’’ according to Alexis Dow Campbell, the center’s director of creative programming. ‘‘I contacted Shotgunn and they were thrilled to be asked, and are very excited to be the first official performance in the new amphitheater.

‘‘We view the amphitheater as a true enhancement to the cultural vitality of upper Dauphin County, and wanted to highlight Shotgunn as an active participant in our community,’’ Campbell added. ‘‘They are a well-loved group of musicians, and we are excited to bring them to our stage.’’

At this time, the main ‘‘season’’ for events at the amphitheater will be Memorial Day to mid-October. Depending on the weather, events also may be scheduled earlier or later.

Also when weather permits, the venue will be  home to the NSCNA’s long-running Arts and Entertainment Series, which features performing artists from both within and outside the region.

The stage also will host school educational programs and summer camps that Beth Sanders (the center’s education director) presents throughout the year.

Campbell will oversee the venue, with assistance from the Arts and Entertainment Committee. Eventually, a part-time person to assist Campbell may be hired.

Organizers hope that eventually, the stage can host people with national – or even international – recognition. However, they also noted that the center already is being rented for weddings, receptions, high school dances and reunions and that the addition of the amphitheater will enhance all of these and bring in additional revenue to the center.

Capital campaign raised funds. The cost to design and build the amphitheater was included in a larger five-year capital campaign to raise $4.5 million for a variety of now-completed projects at the center.

Revenue to operate the facility will be generated by ticket sales and sponsorships of various programs held there. The NSCNA also plans to embark on a campaign to develop an endowment fund to help maintain the venue.

Four acts scheduled for July 25

Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for the amphitheater debut event July 25. Admission and parking are free, but pre-registration is requested.

The night begins with a performance by Harrisburg-based folk outfit Rough Edges String Band, followed by the Pennsylvania Regional Ballet, Twin Valley Players and Gamut Theater Group.

Donors to the project will be recognized, and all attendees will be offered a celebratory cupcake.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket, and a picnic if desired.  Williams homemade potato chips will be available for guests, as well as bottled water.  The event is BYOB.

To pre-register, visit, or call 692-3699.

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