Olean Theatre Workshop

About Us:

      The Olean Theatre Workshop, Inc. is a not for profit corporation organized under the laws of the state of New York and is recognized by the U.S. government as a tax-exempt educational organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions received are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Mission Statement:

a. To perform and present a variety of theatrical productions focused on children and family theater.

b. To offer seminars, workshops and classes which maintain programs that further the educational goals of the organization.

c. To work closely with schools and youth organizations in making a positive, sustained, and creative impact in the area of arts and music education.

d. To bring "Shakespeare in the Park" to our rural community by presenting Shakespeare in Historic Oak Hill Park.

back to top of page...



Olean Theatre Workshop’s History


In 1983, the Olean High School auditorium was being renovated. No funds were available to replace the stage curtains. Those who became the Theatre Workshop's executive, artistic, musical directors and orchestra conductor staged a community production of "Annie" to raise funds for the curtains. Parents of children involved in the production requested that a permanent program, to continue working with the children, be established. The Olean Theatre Workshop came into existence.  The following year "Peter Pan" was staged to refurbish the school's grand piano. With overwhelming support, for 40 years The Workshop has grown into a full-time, non-profit organization.

Major Activities in the community

1)       A Children’s Workshop 

2)       A Full Season of Community Theatre Shows

3)       String Festival for Middle and High School Students

4)       Shakespeare in the Park

A Children’s Workshop 

          Our Children’s Workshop has room for over 70 students from Olean and the surrounding communities taking part in classes once a week from September through June.  Students enrolled range from pre-school through high school.  Each class level presents at least two different productions each year.  Classes are available to perform at area festivals, fund raisers, other community service events.

Grades 8-12 Mon 5:00-6:30- 1 hour and 30 minute class $40 per month
Students expand performance skills and develop vocal and dance technique as they practice and present medleys from hit musicals. During the year they present a major musical.

Grades PreK-K--1 Tues 4:00-4:30 --30 minute class - cost $20 per month
Students develop self-expression and creativity while learning social skills and cooperation through theater games, music, and song and dance.

Grades 2-3-4 Tues 4:35- 5:15– 40 minute class cost $25 per month
Students continue to develop self-expression and creativity while learning social skills and cooperation through theater games, music, and song and dance.

Grades 5-6-7 Tues 5:20-6:30 1 hour and 10 minutes cost $30 per month
Students learn the basic techniques of stage acting: using voice, body, and mind to pursue objectives, overcome obstacles, create characters and scenes, and work as an ensemble. They present several medleys through the year.

Community Series  A Full Season of Community Theatre Shows

Each season, The Workshop presents at least 4 major productions at the Washington Street Theatre. We choose at least one presentation which uses students who are part of our kids’ program.  This past season, the production was “Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus”. Several students were selected from the classes to perform in the show, as well doing tech for the production.  Our high school students also help with set construction and costumes.

String Festival for Middle and High School Students

The Festival provides an opportunity for over 200 string students in the western southern tier to gather and enjoy a weekend of friendship and music.  Since its founding in 1987, the festival has grown significantly and now draws students from all of Western New York including the Greater Buffalo area to our north and Coudersport, Pennsylvania to our south.

The weekend music festival is designed to offer ensemble experience to elementary school (grades 5 & 6), Middle school (grades 7, 8 & 9), and High School (grades 10, 11, & 12) string students. This program provides an opportunity for string players to gather in a musical and social setting, to meet new string students and form new friendships. Energetic, entertaining and musically gifted conductors lead students in rehearsals that are fun and musically enriching. The recreation coordinator provides a schedule of activities that includes swimming, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and arts and crafts. Students can bring to campus books, cards, frisbees or board games. Social events are planned for each age group. These may include an ice cream social, late night gym or swimming. Houghton College cafeteria offers a wide selection of foods, salad bar and desserts. Students are generally housed in double rooms in campus dormitories along with a staff of parent and teacher chaperones. The two-day festival culminates in a public performance. Admission to the concert is free but it is worth “a bundle” to see the proud faces of the students on stage as they share the musical results of many hours of hard work (and fun) with an audience of family and friends.

Shakespeare in the Park

In 2004, a permanent 30’ by 50’ stage was constructed in Oak Hill Park. In August, “Romeo and Juliet” was presented under the direction of Dr. Stephen Grey-Lewis.. Admission was free and attendees brought picnics, blankets, and lawn chairs for the performance. The Workshop’s first attempt at presenting Shakespeare in the Park was a rousing success. This past year was our 14th Shakespeare production.

Some past productions include:" Romeo and Juliet" "Midsummer Night’s Dream" "Much Ado About Nothing" "The Tempest"  “Taming of the Shrew"; "Twelfth Night"  ”A Winter’s Tale" "Comedy of Errors”, ”Two Gentlemen of Verona., "The Complete Workshop of Shakespeare" and Macbeth