The Cumberland Theatre, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2007, is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization entirely owned and operated by its volunteer Board of Trustees. These members of the community (listed on the Cast page) dedicate invaluable time and resources to the funding and operating of the theatre. Other volunteers support the theatre by serving on various committees and by working as front of house staff.
Frostburg State University president Dr. Herb Reinhard, with the assistance of Dr. Philip Allen established a Board of Trustees chaired by Shirley Giarritta. The Board consisted of representatives from the University, County and City administration members, local businesses, and interested area residents.
Tremendous effort and tireless fund-raising resulted in the incorporation of the Cumberland Summer Theatre in 1987.
In 1988 & 1989, the fledgling organization staged a summer season of rotating repertory theatre with Dr. Allen as Executive Director and David Press as Artistic Director. Mr. Pat Julian was engaged as Producing Director for the third season on the Downtown Mall.
In 1991, Dr. & Mrs. Nicholas Giarritta purchased, and with assistance from the State of Maryland, renovated an empty church building on Johnson Street, the current home of the Cumberland Theatre. With Dr. Giarritta as General Manager, the new Cumberland Theatre and Creative Arts Center opened featuring a sold out production of the musical Nunsense starring Denise Lor, directed by Don Whisted.
Mr. Whisted became the Artistic Director in 1992. Expanding the season into the winter months, he shortened the name to the Cumberland Theatre, and over the following 14 years has produced and/or directed over seventy shows. Adding to the staff, Mr. Gary Goodson now serves as Associate Producer, managing many of the duties previously handled by the General Manager and Artistic Director.
In 2003, at the opening night performance of Stephen Sondheim's musical "Sweeney Todd", the auditorium was christened "The Nicholas and Shirley Giarritta Playhouse" to commemorate their many contributions to the theatre throughout its history.
The Board and theatre staff was delighted in 2003 when distinguished stage, Emmy Award winning, and Academy Award nominated actor William H. Macy honored the theatre by agreeing to serve on the Board of Trustees.