The Early History of The Cleveland Play House (1915-1984)

Timeline of Events

A timeline of events in the early history of the Cleveland Play House
Date Event
1915 Charles S. Brooks and Minerva Kline Brooks invite 8 friends to their drawing room at 1598 East 115th St. to discuss the formation of an art theatre.
May 1916 The first play, Death of the Tintagiles, is performed at The Play House. Written by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, it is performed by puppeteers using marionettes.
1917 An old Lutheran church on Cedar Avenue is acquired for $7,000 and converted into the first genuine Cleveland Play House.
Dec. 21, 1917 Olive Russell’s The Garden of the Semiramis is the first play produced at the new Cedar Avenue Theatre.
1921 Frederic McConnell becomes the 2nd Director of The Cleveland Play House. He is the first professional director of The Play House and helped to galvanize it as one of the best regional theatres in the country.
April 4, 1927 The last play at the Cedar Avenue Theatre, Arms and the Man, is performed.
April 9, 1927 The first play at the new Euclid-E.86th building, The Jest, is produced.
Sept. 24, 1937 Bombing shakes The Cleveland Play House. This crime was never solved, although it is believed that disgruntled labor unions were behind it. The initial investigation was conducted by Eliot Ness.
1938 World premiere of Pirandello’s Pleasure of Honesty is performed at The Play House.
Oct. 15, 1949 The opening of the Euclid-77th St. Theatre with a production of Romeo and Juliet. This is one of the first theatres with in-the-round staging.
1958 The American premiere of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage debuts at The Play House.
March 14, 1969 Donald Freed’s The United States Versus Julius and Ethel Rosenberg makes its world premiere at the Brooks Theatre in The Cleveland Play House.
1969-1970 Paul Zindel’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-In-The Moon Marigolds makes its world premiere at The Play House.
Oct. 17th, 1975 The world premiere of Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee’s First Monday in October is performed at the Francis E. Drury Theatre in The Cleveland Play House. This play was written specifically for the 60th anniversary of The Play House.
Nov, 1983 The new Bolton Theatre, designed by world renowned architect Philip Johnson, opens with a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Some Famous Cleveland Play House Alums & Notable Visiting Thespians:

Paul Newman
Paul Newman (left)
Margaret Hamilton
Margaret Hamilton
Alan Alda
Alan Alda
Ray Walston
Ray Walston (left)
Merv Griffin
Merv Griffin (at right)
Dom DeLuise
Dom DeLuise (far left)
Melvyn Douglas
Melvyn Douglas (left)
Eleanor Parker
Eleanor Parker (left)

Other celebrated actors who appeared on The Play House stage but are not pictured here include Academy Award-winner Joel Grey, character actor Jack Weston, and "Willy Wonka" child actor Peter Ostrum.