How did Broadway come to Stockbridge?
The demise of one Berkshire institution, the popular recreational and social attraction known as the Stockbridge Casino, led to the creation of a new and better one in 1928—the Stockbridge Playhouse. Designed by McKim, Mead & White, the 1886 casino had been the center of community life before falling into disuse. Mabel Choate, owner of nearby Naumkeag estate, eyed its Main Street lot as a new location for the historic Mission House and bought the property in 1927.
Soon after, businessman Walter Clark, sculptor Daniel Chester French, and Dr. Austen Fox Riggs, otherwise known as the Three Arts Society, bought the casino from Choate and moved it to Yale Hill Road, creating what is now called the Fitzpatrick Stage of the Berkshire Theatre Group and bringing Broadway to the Berkshires.
The playhouse opened on a wet and windy night in June 1928, with Eva Le Gallienne in Cradle Song. Staging more than 500 productions, the theater has entertained nearly 3,500 audiences to date. Acting legends such as Jane Wyatt (Romeo and Juliet, 1930); Ethel Barrymore (School for Scandal, 1940); Buster Keaton (Three Men on a Horse, 1949); Al Pacino (Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, 1965); and Richard Chamberlain (The Stillborn Lover, 2003) have performed here.
Director Richard Dunlap called the playhouse “inarguably the most handsome structure housing summer theater in America.” As for the prim Mabel Choate, who sold the building for $1, she later had second thoughts, shocked when an actor uttered the word “darn” onstage.