Among the items up for grabs are architectural and decorative items long familiar to the patrons of the 73-year-old summer stock landmark. Perhaps most noteworthy are the playhouse's famous (or infamous, depending on your opinion of their comfort value) collection of red upholstered pews. From these church-like benches, audiences have watched Jane Cowl, Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Basil Rathbone and Henry Fonda perform. The pews range from six to twenty-two feet long and are priced at $20 a foot. They will be sold as-is and are available for view on eBay at http://cgi.ebay.com/was/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=2351800184&category=38203
Also up for sale are dressing room doors from the playhouse's legendary green room; some costumes and props; old fashioned ticket racks, used prior to the installation of the Playhouse's computerized ticketing system; fans; shelving; bookcases; desks; 14' x 22' poster frames from the lobby; 33 rpm records; hula hoops; lamps; refrigerators, microwaves, and a freezer.
Proceeds from the tag sale will benefit the Playhouse renovation.
For more information, contact the Westport Country Playhouse at 203-227-5137.
* The Westport Country Playhouse was converted from an old barn in 1930 by Lawrence Langner, the head of the Theatre Guild, and architect Cleon Throckmorton. There have been several plans over the years to convert the building into a year-round arts center, but the building's fair-weather outfitting have made this a practical and financial impossibility.
The current renovation, in the works for three years, will replace the ancient pews with benchs that will have the "feeling of pews," said associate artistic director Anne Keefe. "Our compromise is it will appear to be a bench back, but there will be armrests and flip up seats."
The playhouse will get a roomy, L-shaped lobby overlooking the garden and bathrooms on both the orchestra and balcony levels. Roofs beams which have obscured patrons' views of the stage will be removed, and an orchestra pit will be added to assist in the production of musicals. Actors will get new dressing rooms and designers will be given a new scene shop. The seating capacity will shrink from 707 to 580.
Retained will be such traditional playhouse features as the colored bunting draped over the balconies, and the original proscenium arch.
Keefe said the new theatre will be open year-round, but that the summer line-up will remain the company's "core season."
The changes are expected to be completed in time for the 2005 summer season. In the meantime, 2004 will see the WCP present a shortened season of two plays at the Ridgefield Playhouse.