Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Back to the Future

The Bedford Playhouse rebuilds on great memories of the past



Film curator and Bedford resident John Farr is leading the effort to re-imagine the Bedford Playhouse, currently under renovation.

Top photo by Sally Green

Bedford was a kid’s paradise 40 years ago. With perhaps less supervision than today, there was freedom to hang out on the Green, swim in the quarry, sneak a peek at Playboy in Trela’s store, or bowl in the fire hall. And on the weekends, there were eagerly anticipated matinees and live performances at the Bedford Playhouse. 

Long-time residents have memorable stories to tell of the old Playhouse, which provided entertainment for kids and their parents from 1947 until it closed in early 2015.  With its reopening planned for October 2016 as a member-supported, non-profit, art-house cinema and community hub, these memories may come full circle for a new generation.

 Originally one large theater, with smoking permitted in the balcony (25 cents extra), the auditorium was divided in 1983. The new Playhouse hopes to restore the original grandeur, with a large screen and two smaller screening rooms. For those who remember trying to sneak in beer for midnight shows of Rocky Horror Picture Show (perhaps from the old 25-cent beer machine in the fire hall), there will now be an all-day café, serving wine, beer, and light meals.

In the ’50s and ’60s, there were live shows, including celebrity appearances by the New York Giants and Roy Rogers. Francie Train remembers dropping off her kids on Fridays, knowing they would be kept in line “by the chaperone, a fierce lady in a white uniform” who patrolled the aisles for feet on seats or, God forbid, necking. 

This was Mary Mead, the beloved manager from the 1950s until 1982, who “could be as hard as flint or as soft as cotton candy,” in the words of one resident. Who could blame her, faced with unsupervised kids wielding pea-shooters, sneaking into X-rated movies (yes, you read that correctly) through the back door, and even once releasing a bag of moths in front of the projector?

The Playhouse was a family affair, staffed with Mead’s children, her brother “Joe Pro” Progreske, and her sister Helen Henker, whose husband owned the beloved Henker’s Farm on Banksville Road. Mead was even a matchmaker. Dana Franklin Sullivan lived upstairs and met her husband, Tim, who worked at the Playhouse when she volunteered to mop the theater during a projectionist strike. Mead told Tim he owed Dana a drink as a thank you. They were married years later, and after the ceremony, they headed back to the Playhouse to close up.

In the ’70s and ’80s there were two cinemas in town, with Cinema 22 located in Hunting Ridge Mall, where Citibank now stands. Far from being rivals, the manager Jytte Fenneberg and Mead were close friends and would help each other out if they ran low on popcorn. Mark Iannazzi worked at both theaters and remembers driving to pick up new releases at JFK and racing back with them before show time.

United Artists owned the Playhouse for years, and several of their promotional stunts are etched in the memories of residents. Rob Winokur was awestruck when “James Bond” appeared onstage to introduce a 007 movie, while David Rauscher recalls that for The Yellow Rolls Royce, the film distributor sent an antique Rolls, which Mead let him drive around town and leave parked in front of the theater. In the ’70s, the staff would don costumes for the Rocky Horror Picture Show and lead the action from the stage, including the throwing of confetti, rice, and toast, to Mead’s horror.

Joni DiMauro was one of many kids kicked out of the Playhouse by Mead. But it didn’t stop her from working there from the ’60s to the late ’70s. She and her husband Joe (now the owner of Mount Kisco Seafood), lived upstairs with Joe’s pet rescue squirrel, which at least twice escaped into the theater, where it terrified the audience and earned Mead’s wrath.  

 There may be no squirrels, moths, clandestine beer, or midnight shows at the new Playhouse, but its new management team hopes that in addition to showing great films, it will once again become a community gathering place, as it was for over 60 years. 


BACK IN THE DAY

Bedford Playhouse in the 1960s sat beside the Wooden Shoe Soda Fountain, which was located where Bedford 234 restaurant is today. 

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

             

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Game Girl

Pound Ridge mom launches adventure video game with female protagonist

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for a FREE lecture! Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. However, the fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Learn strategies for preventing falls and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Health Tully Health Center
32 Strawberry Hill Court
1st Floor Auditorium
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: HSS Sports Rehab
Telephone: 203-705-2933
Contact Name: Pamela Villagomez
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Wednesday, November 14th at 4:00 PM. Open to all ages. Decorate an apple with candy to make it look like a turkey! This event is free and no registration is required. Co-sponsored with the NS...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a behind-the-scenes, private tour of The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition Jewelry: The Body Transformed with Curator of American Decorative Arts, Beth Carver Wees. Followed by lunch and...

Cost: Member price: $50 Non-Member price: $60

Where:
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenune
New York, NY   10028
View map »


Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555

More information

Join Laura’s brother Jan, and singers Diane Garisto and Kate Ferber for an evening of live music, stories and videos of this Rock & Roll Hall of Fame trailblazer.   Laura Nyro, posthumously...

Cost: 50.00

Where:
Bedford Playhouse
633 Old Post Road
bedford, NY
View map »

More information

914INC. will host its annual Women in Business Luncheon, to be held in conjunction with the magazine’s Q4/Winter issue, showcasing leading area businesswomen.

Cost: Single Ticket: $85 / Table of Ten: $800

Where:
DoubleTree by Hilton
455 South Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Sponsor: 914INC and Westchester Magazine
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Friday mornings from 10:30 to 12:30. Free, no registration. Open to adults and older teens. Participants are asked to bring their own supplies in, but some basic supplies will be provided by the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Saturday, November 17th from 12:00 - 3:00 PM for kids K+. Plan on staying with your children and having fun together.   This year’s annual STEAMFEST will feature Mad Science’s special...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Wise financial planning includes getting up to date values for jewelry, watches and other valuables tucked away in jewelry boxes and safe deposit boxes. To make an appointment for a complimentary...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Katonah Museum of Art
134 Jay Street
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Katonah Museum of Art
Telephone: 914-232-9555
Website »

More information

Westchester Oratorio Society, Artistic Director Benjamin Niemczyk, opens its 21st season with a concert entitled, “An Evening with Bach” at the South Salem Presbyterian Church,...

Cost: $15 to $50

Where:
South Salem Presbyterian Church
111 Spring Street
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Westchester Oratorio Society
Telephone: 800 838 3006
Contact Name: Joe Spallina
Website »

More information

Molsky’s Mountain Drifters brings tradition steeped in possibility. The grace and wisdom of longtime fiddle player and multi-instrumentalist Bruce Molsky, described as “an absolute...

Cost: $25, $40, $55, $70

Where:
Rosen House Music Room
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Rd
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Sponsor: Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
Telephone: 914-232-1252
Website »

More information

On November 3rd, Heather Gaudio Fine Artis set to open “Room for Play,” a group exhibition featuring works by Ellen Carey, Deborah Kass, Robert...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags