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Broadway Meets Bucks County in New Hope, PA’s Bucks County Playhouse

Posted on: March 2, 2017

Looking like a cheery barn on the banks of the Delaware river in New Hope PA, The Bucks County Playhouse is a reminder of that famous movie trope, “hey, let’s put on a show!” And since 1939 they have been doing just that – with legendary stars of stage and screen!
Bucks County Playhouse - New Hope PA

The structure was built in 1790 as a grist mill, harnessing the water power of the adjacent river and picturesque waterfall out front, but in the 1930s it was threatened with demolition.

Luckily during the nineteen teens and twenties New Hope had become a magnet for artistic and literary types, who were charmed by the bucolic location only 90 minutes from New York City. A group of these folks led by Broadway playwright Moss Hart (think The Man Who Came To Dinner, A Star is Born) rallied to help save the building and reimagine it into a theatre.

Bucks County Playhouse - New Hope PA

Known as America’s Most Famous Summer Theater, it became the launching pad of many a Broadway play and actor’s career, with veritable who’s who of stars have trod the stage according to their website:

Kim Hunter, Helen Hayes, Kitty Carlisle, George C. Scott, Colleen Dewhurst, Shirley Booth, Lillian Gish, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, James Daly, June Lockhart, Grace Kelly, Alfred Drake, Bert Lahr, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Leslie Nielsen, Bea Arthur, Walter Matthau, Bob Fosse, Richard Kiley, Angela Lansbury, Jack Klugman, Zero Mostel, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Redford, Howard Keel, Bernadette Peters, Rob Reiner, Alan Alda, Tyne Daly, Mike Nichols, Liza Minnelli, John Lithgow, James Whitmore, Jessica Walter, Kevin Kline, Andrea McArdle, George Segal, Audra McDonald, to name a few.

Heck, even the fire curtain has an unusual provenance – it was painted by Charles Child – that would be the brother-in-law of famous chef Julia Child!

Fire Curtain at the Bucks County Playhouse - Painted by Julia Child's Brother In Law!

While the beloved landmark brought world class theatre to Bucks County for decades, the years began to take their toll on the building.

Lucky for us was saved by a local couple saw the value in this cultural landmark and renovated it, reopening in 2012.

Now open year ‘round, there is new seating for over 400, exciting new shows, and expanded eating and drinking options for pre or post-show. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up, to sip a cocktail under the  glow of string lights, channeling the spirit of Dorothy Parker, another gal charmed by the allure of Bucks County.

Bucks County Playhouse Retro Roadmap