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The Old Rugged Cross

April 14-May 29
Written by Dennis McKeen
Musical Arrangements by Travis Smith

Based on the original 2008 production at Cornwell’s Dinner Theatre; Written and Produced by Dennis McKeen of Top Hat Productions, Original Musical Arrangements and Direction by Travis Smith

In celebration of Plain and Fancy’s 25th season, Dennis McKeen, from the first cast has become a successful producer and playwright; his The Old Rugged Cross brings together familiar music with an emphasis on traditional gospel songs.

A barrel full of troubles, 24 gospel songs, a condemned park and a country church make for an inspirational musical comedy to lift you up! It won't let you down! Perfect for church groups and Sunday school classes!


Director Notes
Cast Bios
Production Staff Bios
Theme Dinners
The Old Rugged Cross Press Release
Read a Recent Story About The Old Rugged Cross in the South Bend Tribune
Read a Recent Review of The Old Rugged Cross in The Papers


The Old Rugged Cross
Archive Photographs



A Note from the Director…

David CravenEveryone has a place where we go to calm down, recharge or find love.  In The Old Rugged Cross, Dennis McKeen gives us a church with a park where all these things happen.  It is a delight to work on a show where spiritual songs are combined with real people and the comedy of daily life.  The characters in this show are all people we know, which is what makes it such a delight to watch.  Thanks to Laurie for the great cast, Travis for the musical direction and Dick for the set and producing the theatre.  We dedicate this show to Brody who will be missed.

David Craven


A Note from the Music Director...

Travis SmithWhat a pleasant surprise to have the opportunity to revive the role I originated in the premiere production of The Old Rugged Cross.  It was 3 years ago that I had the pleasure of conceiving this show along with Dennis McKeen at Cornwell's Dinner Theatre in Marshall, MI.  With a cast of five, we work-shopped a show that we were all a little skeptical of at first.  Would the audience enjoy it?  Would they find it funny?  We were hopeful and optimistic.  Opening night came and not only did the audience like it, they loved it.  Laughing, crying, and responding in ways that we didn't even know deserved a response.  They were on their feet by the end of the show, not only commending us for a show they enjoyed, but because they were standing in reverence and praise.  They found the story and characters endearing, and the music, those old gospel hymns, warmed their hearts and souls.  To this day, I still have people talking to me about The Old Rugged Cross and how much they loved it, asking me for recordings or when the next production is going to be.  It's a special show that anyone can derive a message from, regardless of their beliefs.  Thank you for coming and hopefully you too will find some meaning in this production and search me down in three years to tell me how much you loved The Old Rugged Cross.  

Travis Smith


The Old Rugged Cross Cast


Pastor Jim

Travis Smith

Bill / Reed / John

Jeremy Littlejohn

Phyllis / Mom / Ava

Kate Salsbury

Bob / Dad / Danny

Daniel Stargel

Stephanie / Diane / Angie

Rachel Stargel


The Old Rugged Cross Staff


Executive Producer

Richard Pletcher

Managing Artistic Director

Laurie Schotz

Director / Choreographer

David Craven

Music Director

Travis Smith

Production Stage Manager

Phillip B. Richard II

Technical Director

Alvin Yoder


Mark Duggar


Jeremy Springer

Set Designer

Richard Pletcher

Costume Designer

Laurie Schotz

Lighting Designer

Phillip B. Richard II

Properties Masterr

Jeremy Springer

Box Office Manager

Jennifer Scheffer


Scenes & Musical Numbers

Act I

How Great Thou Art


Amazing Grace

Pastor Jim

Church in the Wildwood


Power in the Blood

Bill & Pastor Jim

The Lily of the Valley


Fly Away

Bill, Phyllis & Pastor Jim

I Can Only Imagine

Bob & Stephanie

If You're Reading This


When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

Bob & Stephanie

He's Got the Whole World (In His Hands)


Jesus Loves Me


Do, Lord


I Have Decided (To Follow Jesus)


Old Time Religion


Act II

Gospel Medley I


Find a Way


His Eye is on the Sparrow


Precious Memories


Since Jesus Came Into My Heart

Danny & John

When We All Get to Heaven

Danny & John

Shall We Gather at the River


Oh, Happy Day!


Gospel Medley II


The Old Rugged Cross



The Old Rugged Cross Cast Bios

Amish Acres
Jeremy Littlejohn (Bill / Reed / John)- is originally from Indiana and is now in his fourteenth year as a theatre professional.  He has worn many hats over the years and has been involved in over 100 different productions across the country including four productions of Guys and Dolls, three productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, two productions of seven other shows and he has performed in Plain and Fancy over 700 times.  In addition to being an actor, Jeremy is also an accomplished director, lighting designer and teacher. Visit for more details.


Amish AcresKate Salsbury (Phyllis / Mom / Ava) - an Ohio native, is tickled pink to tread the boards so near home!  Quite the gypsy, her favorite regional roles have taken her from Rhode Island as a prim member of the New York Astor family (Carrie Astor- Beechwood Mansion) to North Carolina as a saucy midwife (Dame Colman- The Lost Colony) to Virginia as a moody Austrian nun (Sister Berthe- The Sound of Music).  A Regent University alumna, she now calls New York City home.  She would like to thank her parents and friends who never stopped believing in her, even when she didn't believe in herself!



Amish AcresTravis Smith (Pastor Jim / Music Director) Travis is excited to be reprising the role he originated in Old Rugged Cross 3 years ago.  He has worked as both a performer and musical director for the past several years. Companies he has worked for include Allenberry Playhouse, Bearcreek Resort, Circa 21, Old Creamery Theatre, Weathervane Playhouse, Downtown Cabaret Theatre, Cornwell’s Dinner theatre, Grand Geneva Resort, and the University of Findlay.  Originally from Columbus, Ohio, he has worked in NYC performing with Victory Theatricals and had the honor of performing with the National AIDs Fund and the Equity Fights AIDS/Broadway Cares charities. Travis also runs his own business producing background tracks for various theatres. He enjoys composition as well.  For the second year, the Old Creamery theatre has commissioned him to write two children’s musicals with them including their yearly children’s tour that is produced in the Spring.  He is a proud graduate of Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio where he earned his degrees in theatre and music.  He would like to dedicate this performance to Dennis McKeen and the original cast of Old Rugged Cross in which he had the honor of performing with in 2008. Enjoy the show and for more information please visit 

Amish AcresDaniel Stargel (Bob / Dad / Danny) is proud to be making his Indiana debut this Summer with the Round Barn Theater! A native Floridian, Daniel has most recently appeared at Georgia’s State Theater, The Springer Opera House, in Dietz’s Dracula (Dracula) and The Full Monty (Jerry). He has also performed multiple seasons with the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, passion drama “The Miracle”, portraying both Jesus and Lucifer. Other memorable roles include Pharaoh (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Emile de Becque (South Pacific), Chuck Cranston (Footloose), and Steve Kodaly (She Loves Me).  As a vocalist, he has sung backup to Sarah Brightman and was a Season 4 American Idol Hollywood semi-finalist.  Daniel is honored to have the support of his friends and family and grateful for the opportunity to share the stage with his beautiful wife, Rachel, whom he met onstage.

Amish AcresRachel Stargel (Stephanie / Diane / Angie) is very excited to be joining the cast and crew of The Round Barn Theatre this summer!  Originally from Woodland Park, CO, Rachel earned her BA in vocal performance from Malone College in Canton, OH.  Although this is her debut at Amish Acres, it is not her first time in theater among the Amish.  She performed the roles of the Narrator in “Ruth”, Mary’s mother in “The Miracle of Christmas” and many crazy old ladies in the ensemble at Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster, PA. Other favorite roles include Nellie Forbush in “South Pacific”, Golde in “Fiddler on the Roof”, Uriel and Mother Mary in the passion drama, “The Miracle” in Pigeon Forge, TN, flying above the stage in aerial sword fights, warbling on the Alaskan seas with her fabulous husband on board a cruise ship, singing to a baby llama about trees and butterflies, and…well, you get the picture. Some pretty fun stuff!  “Much love to my wonderful husband, Daniel, to my crazy/lovely family, the amazing cast and crew that I get to work with, and many thanks to you, our marvelous audience, for joining us. Enjoy the show!

The Old Rugged Cross Staff Bios

David Craven (Director) – has a BS in Architecture Design from Georgia Tech and a MFA in Directing Theater from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  David’s favorite direction jobs include Barefoot in the Park, Forever Plaid (2 productions), Anything Goes, Into The Woods, Reckless, Oleanna and The Rink.  David owns Atlanta’s largest caroling company, Like the Dickens.  Visit Like the Dickens online at .

Mark Duggar (Assistant Stage Manager / Sound Engineer) is a graduate of the University of West Florida and has been studying theatre extensively for the past five years. Mark became interested in sound and electrics when he arrived at UWF, but lacking a specific instructor in sound has had to teach himself guided by a few select individuals who possessed limited knowledge in the area. Most recently Mark served as the sound engineer for Ballet Pensacola and is currently working on sound for UWF on their spring production of Brigadoon.

Laurie Schotz (Managing and Artistic Director / Costumer) is thrilled to be returning for a third season at Amish Acres. Before joining the Amish Acres staff in 2009 she was the Artistic Director for 10 years at Bearcreek Farms Resort in Bryant, IN. Prior to her time there, you could have seen her fall off a building at Old Tucson Studios, aboard a cruise as a production singer/dancer, or running her own entertainment company in Chicago, IL for 13 years. She would like to thank her brother Michael for teaching and guiding her through a difficult time but always keeping her laughing. He has taught her a goal is a dream with a deadline. This season is in memory of my most loyal, loving and sincere companion Brody Will Fall the 1st.  She couldn't of asked for more from him.  Laurie hopes your whole Amish Acres experience equals your expectation and remember to EMBRACE THE PACE.

Philip B. Richard II (Production Stage Manager / Lighting Designer) is excited to be returning to The Round Barn Theatre family for his second season. Philip grew up in Dallastown, PA.  He has worked in theatres across the US including Florida, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, and Hawaii. Philip was an Entertainment Coordinator for 5 years at the Walt Disney World Resort and has previously worked for Austin Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Theater,Festival 56 in Princeton, IL, and Honolulu Theatre for Youth. His regional stage management credits include the National Post Broadway premiere of Souvenir with Orlando Theatre Project and the World Premiers of If You Give A Moose A Muffin, Stripes & Stars, and Wittenberg. Regional lighting credits include productions of The Pillowman, Stripes and Stars, Nosferatu, Rocky Horror Show, Footloose, Scrooge, and Jesus Christ Superstar. Philip is a member of the Equity Membership Candidate program and the Stage Manager Association. He would like to thank his family for all their support and you the audience for supporting the arts, without you, theatre would not be possible. Enjoy the show!

Jeremy D. Springer (Assistant Stage Manager / Electrician) now hails from Boston, but grew up just a few hours down the road in Findlay, OH.  He graduated last year with a degree in Theater Performance, and has been playing the upright bass since he was nine

Richard L. Pletcher (Producer), with his father LaVern, founded Amish Acres in 1968. The Amish farm was preserved and restored and is now listed in The National Register of Historic Places. Following a one year experiment in dinner-theatre with George Bledsoe in 1971, he added musical theatre to the interpretation of the historic farm by producing Plain and Fancy in the Locke Township Meeting House in 1986. It moved to the Round Barn Theatre in 1991. The play has been running for 25 consecutive years having surpassed 3,500 performances before audiences of over 350,000 people. Plain and Fancy’s Tony Award® winning author Joseph Stein and Tony Award® winning composer Albert Hague have attended Plain and Fancy at Amish Acres.

At Mr. Stein’s urging Amish Acres became a regional musical repertory theatre in 1996 with the addition of five shows in rotation with Plain and Fancy each season. Amish Acres has now produced seventy two different main stage Broadway musicals and The Round Barn Theatre stage is named for and dedicated to Joseph Stein. Eight of Mr. Stein’s musicals have been produced on his stage, including Plain and Fancy, Fiddler on the Roof, The Baker’s Wife, and Zorba, plus staged readings of Take Me Along, Rags, and Carmelina, plus a Second Stage Production of Enter Laughing. As you might expect, he has said that The Round Barn Theatre is his favorite regional theatre with which he has been associated.

In October of 2006, Dick and his wife Susan were guests of Joseph and Elisa Stein in New York City for the York Theatre’s Mufti Series production of Plain and Fancy, the last in a month long, three show festival of Stein’s work that included Take Me Along and Carmelina. Artistic Director James Morgan recognized Amish Acres’ twenty year production of Plain and Fancy in the program and in his introductions from the stage. The Pletchers and Jeremy Littlejohn attended the York’s presentation of the Oscar Hammerstein Lifetime Achievement Award in Musical Theatre to Joseph Stein in November of 2007. Stein was further inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in February of 2008. He passed away in 2010 and the Joseph Stein Memorial Fund was created to provide free season tickets to kids.