Ridgefield Playhouse80 E Ridge Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877
A Dream RealizedAfter many years of planning, fundraising, and building, the dream of restoring the Cass Gilbert Jr.-designed theater in Ridgefield became a reality with our December 2000 opening night performance by Jose Feliciano.Since our opening, enthusiastic, sold-out audiences have enjoyed Peter Yarrow, Marcel Marceau, Barbara Cook, Moscow Boys Choir, Joan Baez, and The Bacon Brothers. Film-goers have seen a range of movies from Oscar-winners such as Traffic and Chocolat to family fare to our international film series. Community events such as the Ridgefield High School Orchestra Concert and the Annual Town Meeting found a new home at The PlayhouseAs we look ahead to the next season, we see an entertaining, enriching program of movies and events: more themed film series to supplement our regular movie schedule, internationally acclaimed musicians, comedy, a wonderful collection of children's performers, and even more community partners including The Ridgefield Symphony, The Ridgefield Opera Company, and the Aldrich Museum.While we can all agree with Shakespeare that "the play's the thing," we also know that this beautiful theater adds a great deal to the experience of a performance or movie. In an age of multiplexes and stadiums, what a pleasure to be in an impeccably renovated, historic theater with near-perfect acoustics!Notable Beginnings, Legendary PerformancesDesigned in 1938, the auditorium in "the old high school" (now the Richard E. Venus Municipal Center) was at one time the center of Ridgefield's cultural life. In its heyday, before being abandoned in 1972, it was home to school performances as well as community events and town meetings. During World War II, residents had the privilege of twice hearing the legendary Arturo Toscanini conduct here.In its new life, The Ridgefield Playhouse has been designed to embrace its former role and more. The interior preserves the hall's excellent acoustics that make it an ideal venue for musical performance and live theater.At the same time, retractable draperies cover the walls enabling the "deadening" effect needed to show movies. Thanks to a generous legacy from Patricia Schuster, founder of the Ridgefield Studio of Classical Ballet, the stage was built to have the resilience necessary for dance performances. Parts of the old stage rigging have been preserved and supplemented to enable use of the stage's large fly space. Stage lights and a state-of-the-art sound system have been installed.Echoing the importance of the town of Ridgefield in the theater's life is a hand-painted mural covering the lobby walls with familiar scenes of historic Ridgefield. The mural, a gift from a Ridgefield couple, was created by a local artist. Other murals enliven the interior of the performance area as well as the entryway to The Playhouse, all were gifts of Playhouse supporters.A Success with Many Producers behind the ScenesThe successful opening of The Ridgefield Playhouse was the result of many contributors. The people of the town of Ridgefield have supported The Playhouse with an investment of town funds, the state awarded a grant of $200,000, and more than 600 families and local businesses have contributed to the restoration of The Playhouse. Many local designers, architects, builders, and craftspeople shared their talents during the restoration and construction. We have been blessed with contributions from artists Peter Yarrow through his gracious benefit performance, Debbie Gravitte, Stephen Schwartz, and Alan Menken who shared their talent at our first annual gala, and Patricia Schuster who was so generous through her estate.So many have contributed to the shared vision of restoring this theater to become a center where our community can gather to celebrate and enjoy the arts. Thank you!