In the Beginning …
CenterStage Lake Forest was created in 1971 under the name Group For… The original name was a shortened version of “The Group for the Performing Arts.”
Group For… was founded by LFHS teachers Jay Criche, Scott Meland, and local theater artist Pat Millet, highly dedicated and professionally gifted Lake Foresters who were trying to find a solution to a growing problem: the lack of family-oriented activities in our community. At that time, especially during the summer when school was not in session, there were very few structured activities where both parents and children could work and play together. There were also few opportunities for people to perform in public or learn the art of stagecraft and performance.
Their first show: a simplified production of the Jules Styne, Betty Comden and Adolph Green classic musical Bells Are Ringing, presented with full orchestra on the altar at the Church of the Holy Spirit in July, 1971. Directed by Jay Criche, and with musical direction by Scott Meland, the spare, boisterous production was the beginning of a Lake Forest tradition that was to last for the next 45 years.
Group For… became the vehicle for acting, singing, dancing, music, and learning backstage craftsmanship (free of charge!).