Little Lake Theatre celebrates 75 years in Canonsburg

Little Lake Theatre, a community theater in South Canonsburg, is celebrating its 75th anniversary season this year. Artistic director of the Little Lake Theatre Company, Patrick Cannon, says they're invested in the success of Canonsburg, a town located 18 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, and have loved growing alongside the borough.

“The growth around the area is encouraging and inspiring and hopefully points to a rich future and another 75 years,” Cannon says. “We specialize, frankly, in variety. We try to bring our audiences of all ages and backgrounds to be able to program material that appeals to our community at large.”

Two actors stand back-to-back on stage. One is a white woman with long brown hair and brown bangs, wearing a red short-sleeved dress, and white angel wings strapped to her arms. Behind her stands what looks like a white man with short brown hair, wearing a blue jacket
Little Lake Theatre's production of "Amélie" // Photo by Hawk Photography and Multimedia

Cannon took on his leadership role at the company a little over a year and a half ago, after years of serving various roles in local theaters, including a career as a professional freelance actor for more than 10 years. His portfolio includes roles at Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh CLO, The Strange Tree Group, and more. He even played the character of Orin Scrivello in Little Shop of Horrors three times for three different companies.

“I’ve kind of always been around the theater pretty much my whole adult life, and when this opportunity presented itself, and I was able to throw my name in the hat, I knew that it was something that immediately lit a fire in me and was something I wanted to take on,” Cannon says. “It just seemed to me to be a natural extension of the work that I’ve been doing in our community in the last 15 years.”

Each season, Little Lake puts on anywhere from 10 to 20 performances from various genres ranging from performances directed for children, like this past spring’s Curious George: The Golden Meatball, to this fall’s Lord of the Flies, recommended for audiences 13 years of age and older, to Irvin Berlin’s White Christmas, coming this holiday season.

Two men sit side-by-side on a theater stage. The man on the white is white, with short brown hair and a goatee, a dirty white collared shirt, and gray pants. The man on the right has dark brown skin, short black hair, and is wearing a dirty white T-shirt, and dark pants
Little Lake Theatre's production of "Deathtrap" // Photo by Hawk Photography and Multimedia

One of Cannon’s personal favorites is Deathtrap, the longest-running comedy-thriller on Broadway, and a production that he has personal connections with. Back in 2016, Cannon played the main antagonist in Deathtrap, Clifford Anderson, with Somerset County’s Mountain Playhouse.

“I think it’s going to be a blast. It’s rare to have theater that can make you jump and can make you gasp and keep you on the edge of your seat,” Cannon says. “I’m excited to bring that to the Lake, and [we’re featuring] in-the-round seating, so there’s a certain intimacy that I think heightens the sense of terror.”

A crowd of young actors on stage wearing old fashioned clothing. The young boy in the center of the photo is white and wears glasses, a newsboy cap, a long sleeved brown shirt, best, and tie, and is holding up the front of a newspaper that reads "Newsies stop the world"
Little Lake Theatre's production of "Newsies" // Photo by Hawk Photography and Multimedia

The in-the-round seating Cannon discusses is called “theater in the round,” where the audience surrounds the stage. As noted on Little Lake Theatre’s website, although critics were first skeptical about the company’s first in-the-round stage – created back in 1949 with a stage surrounded by wooden folding chairs in a Washington County barn! – the theater gained many supporters after its first shows.

“The experiment of ‘arena staging’ has apparently proved most successful,” wrote one critic a few months after Little Lake debuted, according to their website.

Now, 75 years later, you can experience it for yourself during one of Little Lake’s upcoming performances, including Deathtrap, through Aug. 6; Willy Wonka Jr., Aug. 17-27; Lord of the Flies, Sept. 7-24; The Book of Will, Oct. 5-22; Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play, Nov. 2-19; and, White Christmas, Nov. 30-Dec. 16.

To purchase tickets, or to learn more about their upcoming performances, visit