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Lake Milton Amphitheater opens, ready for shows

By Guy D'Astolfo

Thursday, August 7, 2008

By Guy D’Astolfo

The structure is similar in size to a Broadway stage.

LAKE MILTON — It took several years to raise the money and build it, but the Lake Milton Amphitheater is finally open.

The final roof panels were put on the structure last week, just before Saturday’s Beach Party. It was the finishing touch of the more than $250,000 project that started in 2004.

The amphitheater, accessible by boat, walking paths or by car, is located adjacent to the state park beach at Craig Beach, between the beach and the dam.

With a 50-foot-by-80-foot lighted stage and room for more than a thousand people, the amphitheater provides a spacious setting for performances along the lake.

Because the amphitheater has a sprung stage, it has the ability to accommodate ballet and other dance performances, said Diane Olenik, Lake Milton Nature Arts Board President.

“Sprung means it gives as you dance on it so there is no need to bring in a special stage,” said Olenik, of the upside to not having a cement stage that could possibly injure performers.

Lake Milton Amphitheater is also close in size to a Broadway musical stage, which means a show playing at other venues in Cleveland or Youngstown could bring their show to Lake Milton and not have to reformat the production, said Olenik.

Saturday’s party was the debut for the structure, according to Barb Neil, park manager. An official ribbon-cutting opening ceremony will take place in the spring.

“The stage was filled all night long with kids, seniors and dancers of all ages,” said Olenik of the beach party that hosted a steel drum player from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and games led by the park naturalist.

Now that the amphitheater is open, programs focused on nature and art will be in motion.

“Our mission is to provide first-time access for resident to multiple music and art genres, as well as nature appreciation and education,” said Olenik.

The amphitheater was a project of the Lake Milton Nature Arts Council, the volunteer arm of the state park, and was built in conjunction with Craig Beach Village and Milton Township.

The bulk of the funding came from a grant from Nature Works and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, with the rest coming from fundraisers and donations.

The structure was designed by architect Randy Baker of Baker-Bednar and Associates, who donated his services.

The Nature Arts Council will run the amphitheater. For more information, go to