You can tell from the color of the rough-sawn wood which parts of the Priscilla Beach Theatre (PBT) barn are new, and which sections were built using planks repurposed from the original 1875 structure. Recognized as one of the oldest and original barn theatres in the United States, the theatre recently underwent a multi-million dollar restoration and the 240-seat performance space was back in action for the 2015 summer season, structurally sound and outfitted with new seats and a state-of-the-art lighting and sound system.
Priscilla Beach Theatre is known for its long-running vibrant summer stock theatre program that served as the training ground for acclaimed actors like Paul Newman, Rob Reiner and Peter Gallagher. Other notable people who spent summers on the stage included folks like Andrew Lack, CEO of Sony Music, and Andre Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theatre, as well as PBT’s current owner, Bob Malone, the man who ultimately stepped in to rescue the historic theatre when it seemed doomed for demolition. Malone, the president of a software development company, grew up just down the street from the theatre and spent his summers helping out in various capacities. The experience inspired a lifelong love of theatre and a belief in its value as a teaching tool for young people.
The summer stock program returned in 2015 and the latest group of aspiring actors will be taking up residency at PBT in June 2016. Six major productions will be produced on its historic barn stage this season, including two iconic Broadway musicals, two contemporary musical works and two hit comedies.
“It is so satisfying and fulfilling to have this vision materialize,” says Malone, who also serves as the theatre’s producer. “Last summer we sold out every show. It’s high quality theatre and it’s through the roof fun.”