After moving to Logan in 1976, the LeGrande and Betty Larsen purchased property off of Bear Lake for a melodrama theater. Construction of the Pickleville Playhouse began in June 1977 and lasted only two and half months. With the help of six sons and one daughter, they peeled white pine logs by hand and mixed concrete in wheelbarrows. The stage was built first and after a long day of construction, the Larsen family and friends would rehearse the play. There was no play to stay overnight, so cast and crew slept in sleeping bags and tents. The 320 seats for the Pickleville Playhouse came from the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, which was being renovated at the time. Since the seats couldn't be loaded until after the workers there had gone home, the Larsens took the family truck and picked up load after load in the middle of the night.
Speaking of those early days, Betty Larsen said, "Costumes were designed by us sowing them while the kids painted the backdrops. Props were acquired from [Deseret Industries] and various other places. Technicians for the technical aspects were nurtured along the way. The opportunity to audition for shows was given to family memebers, friends, and new faces alike. Actors were chosen from those with integrity, who worked the longest and the hardest. Those who had the desire to do the very best were given the opportunity. The family, cast and crew, grew together as one big Pickleville family, and the project just took off."
The Pickleville Playhouse opened in August 1977 with "The Faithful Footman".
"A lot of people ask us about the name," Betty Larsen related. "Why Pickleville? Well, Pickleville takes it name from the small town that once occupied the area the theater stands on. Here-say has it that the town of Pickleville was founded by one Mr. Pickle. With a little persistence he was able to convince the other citizens to allow the town to be named Pickleville. The city was annexed into Garden City a few years back, leaving only a few evidences of Mr. Pickle's good name. The playhouse, a general store, and a few old maps are all that are that's left to continue the Pickle tradition."
The Pickleville Playhouse was inspired by Pierre's Playhouse in Victor, Idaho. Before moving to Logan, LeGrande Larsen began his practice as a physician in nearby Driggs. About that time an old movie theater in Victor was renovated and converted into a melodrama theater known as Pierre's Playhouse.
The Pickleville Playhouse is a family-owned business, currently run by Andrea Davis and her son T. J. Davis. Adjacent to the theater is the Pickleville Pavilion, which offers an optional western-style cookout. Performers include students and graduates from Utah State University, as well as some high school students.
1. "Pickleville Playhouse History", www.picklevilleplayhouse.com, 2008
2. "Playhouse set to", The Utah Statesman Online, 23 April 2008