Theatres – Ivoryton Playhouse

Ivoryton Playhouse

CT Playhouses, Live Performances, Theaters

Connecticut is home to many fine theaters. Whether you are looking to see a professional play, college drama, musical, ballet, or opera you will always find something going on in Connecticut. A great CT theater is the Ivoryton Playhouse. Starting out as a recreation hall for the employees of the Comstock-Cheney factory in 1908, the Ivoryton Playhouse has come a long way. The Ivoryton Playhouse became the first self-supporting summer theater in the country when they opened in June of 1930. The reputation at the little theater grew quickly over the coming years and newcomers like Katharine Hepburn and Cliff Robertson came along to help the Ivoryton legend.

Over the past 28 years, the Ivortyone Playhouse Foundation completed a total renovation of the building, including new shingles, a new heating and air-conditioning system, new seats and state-of-the-art theatrical sound and lighting systems. The Playhouse has maintained its reputation as a first-class summer theatre and now produces a year-round professional season of musical, comedies and dramas.

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Ivoryton Playhouse

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Starting out as a recreation hall for the employees of the Comstock-Cheney factory in 1908, the Ivoryton Playhouse has come a long way. Milton Stiefel, who had a long career in theater as an actor, assistant director and right hand man, ended up in Essex one night exhausted from his travels. He saw the unused recreation hall and knew it would be a great place for a resident stock company. After putting a cast together he opened with “Broken Dishes” which had just come been in New York, on June 17, 1930.

The Ivoryton Playhouse became the first self-supporting summer theater in the country when they opened in June of 1930.

Stiefel’s company was mainly made up of his close friends, and they called themselves The New York Players. His new company didn’t break even until the end of the summer, but Stiefel knew his little theater company was doable.

The reputation at the little theater grew quickly over the coming years and newcomers like Katharine Hepburn and Cliff Robertson came along to help the Ivoryton legend. Invitations to perform at the theater became highly prized.

Ivoryton’s fame as home of one of Americas leading summer showplaces continued to grow until the beginning of World War II. Due to the tire and gasoline rationing most attendees weren’t able to get to little Ivorytown. The doors to the theater remained closed for several summers while Steifel headed off to Hollywood to direct for Columbia Picures. When Steifel returned to Ivorytown he brought with him a plethora of stars.

In 1973 Steifel sold the playhouse to Ken Krezel, but remained active as an advisor until his death in 1983. Krezel was having a difficult time with the Playhouse and finally in 1979 decided to sell it. Rumers spread that the historic theater might be torn down to make way for a discount drug store. The non-profit Ivoryton Playhouse Foundation was organized to save the Playhouse and with the help of the Essex Savings bank, were able to come up with a mortgage to buy the property from Krezel.

Over the past 28 years, the Ivortyone Playhouse Foundation completed a total renovation of the building, including new shingles, a new heating and air-conditioning system, new seats and state-of-the-art theatrical sound and lighting systems. The Playhouse has maintained its reputation as a first-class summer theatre and now produces a year-round professional season of musical, comedies and dramas.

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