Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tragedy and Comedy in New England

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.


John Hayes said...

Hi Jacqueline:

Did check out this new blog & really enjoyed it. I also looked at your New England blog & liked that a lot as well-- left a couple of comments there, but I received "failure notices" on both in my inbox. Not sure if I did something wrong or there's a glitch, but thought you might want to know.

Great blogs-- I'll be following them & placing them on the RFB roll.

Raquelle said...

Yay New England!

Is this going to be your third blog? That's very impressive.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks, John. Your comments came through. Blogger must be playing tricks.

Hi, Raquelle. Yep, third time's the charm. I just decided not to have a life anymore.

MovieMan0283 said...

As a fellow New Englander (and lapsed theatergoer) I look forward to it.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Thanks, MovieMan. "Lapsed theatergoer", I like that. I'm afraid there may be a lot more lapsed theatergoers in this troubled economy. It makes me concerned for the present circumstances of live theater.

Related Products