The American Shakespeare Theatre, where actors like Katharine Hepburn once walked the boards, is no more. The theatre building in Stratford, Connecticut, burned down over the weekend.
The American Shakespeare Theatre opened in 1955 with a production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” James Earl Jones, Christopher Plummer and many others appeared in productions over the years.
The theatre also hosted “The Ed Sullivan Show” when Bill Haley and the Comets first performed “Rock Around the Clock” for a national audience. The last regular season was in 1982, featuring a production of “Hamlet” with Christopher Walken in the lead role.
Former town council member Beth Daponte says even though it was shuttered for decades, the theatre was a point of pride for lots of Stratford residents.
“There was a history to that theatre. If you ever went in there, you could see the absolute beauty of it. And you don’t see theatres like that anymore. And I’m afraid we’ll never see this theatre again either.”
Edward Goodrich, the former chairman of the town’s arts commission, spent years trying to revitalize the theatre after it closed. He says he doesn’t want the fire to mark the end of Shakespeare in Stratford.
“It was a tragedy. And we could have saved it. But all is not lost. A lot is lost. But all is not lost.”
The Connecticut Post reports Stratford’s fire marshal says it will be some time before the cause of the fire is identified.