Henry Fonda and James Stewart found acting work early in their careers in summer stock on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Both worked with the University Players in Falmouth. Fonda also worked with the Cape Playhouse down the road in Dennis, where a young Bette Davis was an usher, soon to get her own chance to perform onstage under Laura Hope Crews. Robert Montgomery, Constance Collier, Frances Farmer, and Lloyd Nolan all appeared here in their apprentice years. Other movie stars who performed here were Humphrey Bogart, Lana Turner, and Ginger Rogers.
Later on, Fonda, still scrounging for work on the New England summer theater circuit, would do odd jobs at the summer theater in Surrey, Maine, where he chauffeured and picked up guest actor Joseph Cotten’s trunk at the railroad depot.
Humphrey Bogart appeared a little further south in Maine at the Lakewood Theater in Skowhegan.
Jane Wyatt got her start with the Berkshire Playhouse in Stockbridge, Mass., where Mary Wickes also played.
Summer stock and road shows were not only for the novice actors. Ethel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Cornelia Otis Skinner, and Judith Anderson regularly trod the boards of rather humble New England playhouses, long after they had achieved their fame.
This post is actually to introduce a new blog of mine (Yeah, I know. The Internet really needs another blog) on theatre in New England, past and present. It’s called Tragedy and Comedy in New England, and I hope you can stop by for a visit.