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Bucks County Playhouse, New Hope, Pa.

A short history of the Bucks County Playhouse quoted from their site.

"The Bucks County Playhouse is a national landmark rich in theatrical history. Some of the biggest and brightest names in show business first got their start on its stage.

The building known as the Bucks County Playhouse was originally a grist mill. The Hope Mills, as they were first named, burned to the ground and were rebuilt in the year 1790 by local businessman, Benjamin Parry. This building was renamed the New Hope Mills and the town got a new name as well.

With the threat of this already historic building being torn down in the 1930's, the mill was purchased by a group of individuals, including playwright, Moss Hart, expressly for the purpose of performing live theatrical productions. Renovations began in 1938, and an official opening was scheduled for July 1, 1939. Workers continued renovations right up until a few minutes before the theatre opened its doors to the first paying customers. The first show performed was a drama, Springtime for Henry, starring the well known, Edward Everett Horton.

The sparkling reputation of the Bucks County Playhouse grew rapidly. It soon became known as America's Most Famous Summer Theatre, and for good reason. Not only did performances feature well known stars of stage, screen and television, but the Playhouse also became known as a pre-Broadway theatre premiering some of the most famous dramas in theatrical history. Dramas like Harvey, Nobody Loves Me (Barefoot In The Park) and Give 'Em Hell Harry made their premieres at Bucks County.

The list of actors and actresses that have appeared at Bucks County Playhouse is impressive. Kim Hunter, Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, Colleen Dewhurst, Shirley Booth, Sara Seegar, Lillian Gish, June Lockhart, Frances Reid, Peggy McCay, Grace Kelly, Bonnie Franklin, Kaye Ballard and Sandy Dennis have all appeared in performances. A list of actors includes Farley Granger, Robert Redford, Paul Lynde, Kevin McCarthy, Bert Lahr, Leslie Nielsen, Jack Klugman, Gale Gordon, Roddy McDowell, Walter Matthau, Merv Griffin and Larry Hagman. Today the Bucks County Playhouse continues its tradition of performing quality musicals and dramas."
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Anonymous said...

Where is information on the year the BCP was closed, padlocked by the IRS, bankrupt and scheduled to be torn down in 1972? Where is the information on the fund raising done by Alfred Stites who was appointed director after raising $55,000, and settling the tax debt with the IRS? 18 of the famous stars who had played there called in to a Trenton Radio station in the "Save the Playhouse" drive. They did a remote from the Playhouse over a weekend, and several NY theater stars came out in support.

Alfred Stites said...

The information about the troubles of the Playhouse in 1972, and all the fundraising efforts can be found in the weekly newspaper of New Hope, PA.of that time (I still have a copy of the edition the day after the event). Or, if the Trenton FM radio station is still operating they will have records, one presumes.

To Mr. Anonymous I would say I do not tell untruths. I have pictures of some of the stars who came to New Hope for that fund raising effort,the 24 hour marathon in which we raised $55,000. To get the abbreviated story (and pictures)buy my book "Forget the goal ... etc." (Amazon)

Alfred Stites

Walt said...


Thanks for stopping by and lending perspective to this post.