In the early 1990’s Bill Nothstein, the art teacher at the elementary school, and Ron DeMaio, a third grade teacher, got together to produce two shows that were used as fundraisers for sick children within the school. After consecutive successes the duo decided to formalize a theatre group, originally called “The Sheckler Players,” with its first official performance being The Wizard of Oz in 1993. The shows were originally performed by elementary school staff and students and their families.

Around 1996 the name was changed to the Catasauqua Area Showcase Theatre and was open to all families within the school district. However, it wasn’t before long that the doors were open to all who were interested no matter where they lived. Since then membership has significantly grown and in some of our biggest years, our cast size, of just performers, has reached above 90 individuals. CAST is fortunate enough to bring in talent from not only Catasauqua, but many of the neighboring cities and towns as well. Since its inception in 1993, CAST has had the privilege of working with 547 individual performers! The cast size was not the only aspect of CAST to grow over the years.

The first year’s production costs were minimal, as was the set design. With each passing year, the sets continue to grow in size, the costumes become more detailed and the amount of money spent increases. Recent year’s shows have cost upwards of $25,000 to produce. There are several aspects to a production that can cost a lot of money. Everything from set construction, to making costumes, finding props can be very costly. To keep costs down CAST asks its members to help out every Saturday when they can. Each Saturday cast members get together to work on behind the scenes necessities such as sets, props and costumes. CAST is very fortunate to have had Rick Eckhart in the past and currently Dave Willett to oversee our extraordinary backdrops. A single backdrop can cost thousands of dollars; for most shows CAST will use two or three backdrops.

CAST is also proud to have its very own “Senior Work Crew.” Made up of retired men, this lively group dedicates some of their mornings to constructing fabulous sets. CAST members often joke that the sets are nicer and better put together than the member’s real houses; and in a lot of cases it’s true! If a house is needed for a scene, they build you a house, not just a front! Of course, you must give them their 10:30am coffee break or no work will be done.

Proceeds from the previous year’s show are used to produce the next. However, that only covers some of the cost. Every fall CAST hosts its “FAMILY DAY” fundraiser to raise funds for the coming show. Usually held in late October or early November, this day is dedicated to “the family” with kids games, great food and a basket and gift auction with usually well over a hundred prizes to win! CAST also offers grand prizes which have included signed DVD’s by Ron Howard, as well as a family pack to the Baltimore Aquarium with hotel stay.

Through the years CAST has given back to its community by donating money to charities including Miller Blood Bank and Autism Awareness. CAST has also sent support to several families with children or adults with life threatening illnesses or financial needs. CAST prides itself in being not only a community organization, but a family one as well. In October 2004 CAST was awarded the Nicholas Cericola Memorial Award given each year to a group which has created opportunities for family involvement and has shown outstanding accomplishments in sustaining participation in this activity. Whether you join CAST as an individual, or with your family, once you join or help out with our musical you become a part of the CAST family.

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