Adapted from information at www.capeplayhouse.com/history.html
The Cape Playhouse is proud to be America's oldest professional summer theatre.
Californian Raymond Moore had spent several summers painting scenery, writing plays and acting in Provincetown. His vision, however, was to have a theatre of his own -- a smart, sophisticated summer theatre, which would bring Broadway to Cape Cod. So in 1927, he bought a 19th century former Unitarian Meeting House for $200 and had it moved to 3 1/2 acres of pasture land fronting the Old Kings Highway in Dennis and converted it into a theatre. The original pews, now with cushions, still serve as seats.
The opening performance on July 4, 1927 was The Guardsman,
starring Basil Rathbone. Over the years, Moore attracted many big name stars from Broadway and the silver screen. Many made their professional stage debuts at the Cape Playhouse. With such stars as Bette Davis (who first worked as an usher), Gregory Peck, Gertrude Lawrence, Lana Turner, Ginger Rogers, Humphrey Bogart, Tallulah Bankhead, Helen Hayes, Julie Harris, and Paulette Goddard, it's no wonder the Playhouse is known as "The Birthplace of the Stars."
During the mid-50s, the Cape Playhouse became home to three educational programs which provided summer classes in all areas of the theatre. Although the programs did not continue after the early 1970s, many young aspiring performers spent their summers here. In 1956, a young student was given a small part in "The Male Animal" starring Henry Fonda (his daughter, Jane)!
The Raymond Moore Foundation now oversees the 26 acre grounds of the Playhouse, which is also home to the Cape Cinema, the Cape Cod Museum of Art and the Center Stage Cafe.