Monday night was a very special, exciting one in New Hope, PA.
The Bucks County Playhouse reopened after being shuttered for more than 18 months. This time, Equity producer Jed Bernstein is at the helm.
At 7 PM, a dignitary and star-studded audience of nearly 200 people applauded and cheered as each speaker acknowledged the amazing progress the Playhouse has made in a relatively short time.
The presence of Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson attracted much attention from the guests. They were there to commemorate their appearance together at the Playhouse in HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES decades ago.
William Hammerstein spoke with pride about his grandfather, Oscar whose show, IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING is opening the season.
Moss Hart’s and Kitty Carlisle’s son, Chris, expressed fondness for his parent’s connection with BCP, saying his mother introduced him to audiences when he was a baby and they were appearing in THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER.
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick expressed his delight that the Playhouse is open again, “There is new hope for the arts here in New Hope!”
Pennsylvania’s Lt. Governor, James Cawley brought greetings from the Governor and Mrs. Corbett, a strong supporter of the arts.
Representing New Hope and the entire Boro Council, who were also in attendance, were Clair Shaw and Larry Keller, Mayor of New Hope.
Nick Wyman, President of Actors’ Equity Association was in the audience as was Jerry Lepping, executive director of Visit Bucks County.
Earlier on, benefactor Kevin Daugherty talked about how pleased he was to have participated in this project along with his wife, Sherri. Tanya Cooper, executive director of Bridge Street Foundation which funded the Playhouse restoration, expressed her excitement in how far they’ve come in such a short time, holding up an interior photo of the Playhouse before the work began.
Several times during the celebration, speakers gestured toward Peggy McRae, who stood in the back and did not speak, acknowledging that McRae — with no ties to theatre at all – had been the driving force to find a way to save the Playhouse.
Helpers passed out champagne to all of the guests, and as the speakers and Boro Council members gathered on the front steps, all guests raised their glasses in a toast as the ribbon was cut, remembering Congressman Fitzpatricks’ concluding words in his remarks: “This community will not let you down. The world is watching. Let the show go on!”
The doors opened. The Bucks County Playhouse lives again!