As you walk around the JCC campus, you may discover some hidden secrets–places around that you would otherwise just pass by, never noticing them. Over the next few blog posts, I will be posting information about some of my favorite places on campus along with some pictures and interesting facts about them. This helped me to get to know my campus a little more, and I hope it does the same for you!
Every year the Scharmann Theatre hosts several productions, cultural events, and lectures. It may not be necessarily hidden, but it is still one of my favorite spaces at the college. Although I spend a lot of time in the Scharmann Theatre, especially during musical season, I never knew the history behind the theatre or Robert Scharmann himself, so hopefully now I can shed some light on the subject.
Robert Lee Scharmann came to JCC to teach English and Drama in 1956. While intending to stay for one year, it ended up becoming his home for the rest of his life. Not long after moving here, Scharmann began directing plays, and performing them in a small theater in an abandoned elementary school. That school was being renovated to be one of the first buildings on the JCC Jamestown Campus.
Scharmann produced brilliant productions and really established the theater program within the JCC community. The plans for the current theater at the college were made in 1968, and after his death in 1976, it was named for Robert Scharmann. A generous bequest from Scharmann provided the funding for special theater projects, such as residencies and awards for JCC students.
The theater is now under the direction of Bob Schlick as the artistic director and Steve Gustafson as the technical director. The JCC Uncommoners put on 2 productions a year, a fall musical and a spring play, which continue to uphold the level of excellence that Robert Lee Scharmann began. Personally, I played in the pit orchestra for the 2011 production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, performed on stage in Legally Blonde, and just a couple of weeks ago danced on the stage again for my Spring ballet recital. Make sure you visit this little “gem” of a theater in November to see our next production, Anything Goes!