THE HISTORY

of Long Wharf Theatre

1965

IT ALL STARTED WITH...

Harlan Kleiman and Jon Jory, the founders of

Long Wharf Theatre. Read Betty Kubler's article

"Theatre in a Food Terminal," excerpted from the

Smith Alumnae Quarterly, Winter 1966.

 

OUR FOUNDERS

Betty Kubler

Ruth Lord

C. Newton Schenck III

THE CRUCIBLE

The first play produced by Long Wharf Theatre

was Arthur Miller's The Crucible in 1965.

Jon Jory directed.

 

 

 

The audience arrived in
evening dress for opening night.

 

 

 

 

1966

LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT

Frank Langella (right) plays the son of popular matinee idol James Tyrone
(played 
by 
Michael Higgins) in Eugene O'Neill's tale of a tormented family.
Directed by Arvin Brown
.

1967

ARVIN BROWN BECOMES ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Arvin Brown is the longest-serving Artistic Director in LWT history.

1969

Patrons respond to LWT Questionnaire...

1970

FIRST LWT PRODUCTION TO TRANSFER TO NYC

A PLACE WITHOUT DOORS

Mildred Dunnock, who appeared in the original production of Death

of a Salesman and routinely appeared on Broadway and on screen, won

a Drama Desk Award for her portrayal of a woman who murdered her housekeeper.

A Place Without Doors, the theatre’s first transfer to New York, signaled an interest

on the part of the regional theatre in national prominence. 

Mildred Dunnock and Alvin Epstein.

1971

THE CONTRACTOR

Emory Battis and William Swetland, who both

appeared in The Contractor, written by David

Storey and directed by Barry Davis, were two

of the theatre’s original repertory company

members. Battis, a character actor, and

Swetland, a genteel leading man, appeared in

a combined 127 productions on the Long Wharf

Theatre stage.

1972

LWT'S FIRST BIG HIT

THE CHANGING ROOM

In the early days of Long Wharf Theatre, Artistic Director Arvin

Brown and Managing Director Edgar Rosenblum, would scout

for shows in England. The Changing Room, a Tony Award-winning

production on Broadway in 1973, was one of their early finds.

Written by David Storey and directed by Michael Rudman, this story

of a British rugby team launched the career of John Lithgow.

The Changing Room won a 

NY Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play

and a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor

(John Lithgow) and Tony Award nominations

for Best Play, Best Director and Best Scenic Design.

FUN FACT:

John Lithgow appeared in

The Changing Room.

He would return to LWT

to act in another 5

productions, to direct

A Pagan Place and as

the star of the 2014 Gala.

 

 

1973

THE NATIONAL HEALTH 

Peter Nichols was one of Long Wharf’s most popular playwrights of the 1970s,

being produced four times. The cast of The National Health, which received two Tony

Award-nominations during its New York run, was a veritable who’s who of early repertory

company LWT. Appearing in the show were LWT veterans Emery Battis, John Braden,

Joyce Ebert, Joseph Maher, Paul Rudd, William Swetland, and Richard Venture.

Rita Moreno also starred in this story about an underfunded local hospital. 

The National Health, by Peter Nichols, was nominated for Best Director (Arvin Brown) and Best Play. It transferred to Circle in the Square in 1974.

MISS JULIE

Austin Pendleton, the director of Miss Julie, starring Christopher

Walken (here with Katina Commings) in his only LWT appearance,

was an important utility man in the theatre’s first seasons. He appeared

as an actor, directed four shows, wrote one play, and adapted two others. 

Roberta Maxwell, Christopher Walken, and Katina Commings.

1974

ATHOL FUGARD'S LONG WHARF THEATRE DEBUT
Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island marks the beginning of

a fruitful relationship between the South African playwright

and Long Wharf Theatre.

John Kani and Winston Ntshona. Directed by Athol Fugard.

Winston Ntshona and John Kani both received the Tony Award for Best Actor.



AH, WILDERNESS
Joyce Ebert, depicted here in Eugene O’Neill’s

Ah,Wilderness, was one of the most important members

of the early Long Wharf family. Ebert, the wife of Artistic

Director Arvin Brown, appeared over 80 productions,

the most of any performer in the theatre’s history. Playing roles

of all sizes and types, Ebert often appeared in several

productions each season. She died in August 1997. Interviewed

by the New York Times in 1982, she said: ''I really had a spectacular

career and it's been in a quiet way. I'm not a star and never wanted

to be one.'' She pridefully said, ''I work constantly.'' The Stage II

Green Room is dedicated in her memory.

 

From left: Joyce Ebert, Victor Garber, and John Braden.

1975

STREAMERS

Playwright David Rabe was working as a reporter in New Haven when he

completed Streamers, directed by Mike Nichols, which debuted at Long

Wharf Theatre before winning a Tony Award at the Public Theater in 1976. 

This story of a diverse group of young soldiers preparing to ship out to Vietnam

was one of the few times that legendary producer Joe Papp shared credit

with another theatre.

1976

THE SHADOW BOX

Clifton James, as a man with a terminal illness, dodges

discussing it with this son, played by Vincent Stewart.

The Shadow Box moved to Broadway where it won

the Tony Award for Best Play as well as the Tony for

Best Director for Gordon Davidson.

Geraldine Fitzgerald and Rose Gregorio.

1977

THE GIN GAME

Starring real-life partners, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn,

The Gin Game transferred to NYC and garnered a Pulitzer

Prize and a Tony Award for Best Actress for Tandy.

1978

Breaking Ground for Stage II

Long Wharf Theatre expands for the first time in its history. Stage II’s

intention was that it would be an incubator for new work and daring

storytelling, a reputation it holds to this day. Originally conceived to be

a black box space, Stage II was reconfigured into a small proscenium house

due to the financial and practical difficulties of reinventing the room

for each different play.  Shown: Founders Betty Kubler and Newt Schenck

(second and third from left) dig with Arvin Brown (far right).

LWT WINS TONY AWARD FOR OUSTANDING REGIONAL THEATRE

Tony Award Acceptance

Edgar Rosenblum and Arvin Brown accept the award from Geraldine Fitzgerald.

1980

THE BEACH HOUSE

Preston Brooks and Swoosie Kurtz.

This romantic comedy, starring Edward Herrmann and Swoosie Kurtz, 

was performed at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY as the

artistic component of the games.

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the classic by Edward Albee, reunited

Mike Nichols and Elaine May, a hit comedy team from 1959 to 1962.

The duo put their own stamp on Albee’s work, offering a level of acerbic

humor as the academic couple in the death throes of their marriage.

Nichols would go on to direct three shows at Long Wharf, including

two counted among the theatre’s finest: Streamers and The Gin Game.

1981

AMERICAN BUFFALO

Al Pacino (foreground) joins Clifton James (left) and

Thomas Waites to portray a trio of petty thieves

plotting a burglary in American Buffalo.

DID YOU KNOW?...

Actor Al Pacino has starred

in 3 Long Wharf productions

(American Buffalo, National

Anthems, and Hughie).

He also directed Hughie.

 

PACINO-MANIA!

1982

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE

LWT's production of Arthur Miller's 1955 play transferred directly to Broadway and was nominated for two Tony Awards, Best Reproductoin and Best Actor for Tony Lo Bianco.

A DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG

Richard Dreyfuss and Stockard Channing starred in

Peter Nichols’ story of a family struggling to care for a

child with cerebral palsy. Both Dreyfuss and Channing

made other high profile appearances at Long Wharf

Theatre—Dreyfuss in Requiem for a Heavyweight and

Channing in The Lady and the Clarinet.

1983

QUARTERMAINE'S TERMS

Simon Gray’s tale of a group of British teachers

won an Obie Award for best ensemble and

featured a young Kelsey Grammer, better known

as Frasier Crane on Cheers

Henry Windscape (John Cunningham) and Derek Meadle (Anthony Heald) discuss lesson plans in a scene from the American premiere of Simon Gray's Quartermaine's Terms.

ANOTHER COUNTRY

Peter Gallagher would see Broadway glory as Sky Masterson in a popular

revival of Guys and Dolls. But before luck would be his lady, he was

negotiating English public school life in Julian Mitchell’s Another Country.

1984

REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT

In many ways, Rod Serling’s Requiem for a Heavyweight, starring John Lithgow

and Richard Dreyfuss and featuring a cast of 16 actors, is a representative example

of the success of 1980s era Long Wharf. Requiem did 102.5 percent capacity

business during a six- week run.

David Proval, Richard Dreyfuss and Daniel F. Keyes tend to John Lithgow in Requiem for a Heavyweight, directed by Arvin Brown.

1985

THE COMMON PURSUIT

Nathan Lane, an aspiring theatre critic, describes his

somewhat exaggerated social life to an old university chum

(Michael Countryman) in this American premiere of

Simon Gray's The Common Pursuit.

1986

THE GLASS MENAGERIE

Laura Wingfield (Karen Allen) and her mother

Amanda (Joanne Woodward) make a wish

on the moon in The Glass Menagerie

by Tennessee Williams.

ANOTHER MOVE TO BROADWAY AND TONY WIN!

ALL MY SONS

All My Sons is one of Long Wharf Theatre’s most decorated New York transfers.

Arthur Miller’s play won a 1987 Tony Award for best revival and received three

additional nominations. It also won an Outer Critics Award. Ralph Waite, Frances

McDormand, and Jamey Sheridan led the cast, which featured Stephen Root,

known for his performance in the cult classic Office Space.

Richard Kiley, Frances McDormand, and Christopher Curry

1987

OUR TOWN

Hal Holbrook played the Stage Manager

in Our Town in the LWT production

celebrating the 50th anniversary of the

Broadway opening of Thornton's Wilder's

classic drama.

Daniel Nathan Spector, Hal Holbrook and Louise Roberts in a scene from Our Town, directed by Arvin Brown.

1988

LOVE LETTERS

A.R. Gurney’s epistolary love story becomes one of the theatre’s

biggest successes. Not only did it have a successful New York run

with a parade of noteworthy actors drawn to its simple, yet

moving style, it’s entered the theatrical bloodstream, playing all

over the world, from professional to amateur theatres. 

NATIONAL ANTHEMS

After Long Wharf Theatre’s rise to prominence in the 1970s, the theatre began

expanding into new play development, running workshops, giving new works

with potential a place to improve. National Anthems was one of those works,

receiving a high profile workshop with Al Pacino. Dennis McIntyre’s play later

received a full production with Kevin Spacey, Tom Berenger, and Mary McDonnell.

1990

BETRAYAL

In the 1980s Long Wharf Theatre peaked at 16,000 subscribers,

leaving the organization well poised to move into the future.

Buoyed by this tremendous level of community support,

Long Wharf Theatre continued to focus on challenging work, like

Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, while still cultivating the voices of tomorrow. 

1992

THE DAY THE BRONX DIED

Gordon Edelstein was a young up and comer when he directed The Day the

Bronx Died, the story of two friends, one black and one white, learning to deal

with a racist world. Edelstein went on to serve as associate artistic director for

five seasons before ascending to the top job in 2002. 

Kelly Neal as the Prince makes Luis A. Laporte, Jr., yield to a new gang leader as Troy Winbush as Odd Job watches in a scene from Michael Henry Brown's gripping portrayal of gangs, truth, loyalty and friendship. Directed by Gordon Edelstein.

1993

FIRES IN THE MIRROR

Actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith plays 29 characters

in her award-winning depiction of Black-Jewish relations in

Brooklyn surrounding the 1991 Crown Heights unrest.

Among the  characters Ms. Smith portrays are (top left) Monique "Big Mouth" Matthews, a rapper; (top right) Minister Conrad Muhammad, Nation of Islam; and (bottom) Henry Rice, Crown Heights Youth Coordinator.

1994

BROKEN GLASS


Amy Irving and George N. Martin.

Arthur Miller gave Long Wharf Theatre one of the final world premieres of his illustrious career.

Long Wharf is, in many ways, considered to be a playwright’s home—William Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill,

Miller, Tennessee Williams, Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, and Athol Fugard are the most produced

playwrights in the theatre’s history—and Long Wharf is known for its development

of new work as well.

Ron SIlver as Dr. Harry Hyman.

1996

LWT-NEW YORK TRANSFER
I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE PERFECT, NOW CHANGE
This hit musical comedy went on to become
Off-Broadway's 2nd longest running musical.

Jordan Leeds and Melissa Weil.

Joe DiPietro, who wrote the book and lyrics for I Love You, You're Perfect,
Now Change
, is also the playwright of The Second Mrs. Wilson, which will
close our 50th Season in May, 2015.  He also won the Tony Award for best
original score in 2010 for the musical Memphis.

AL PACINO STARS IN EUGENE O'NEILL'S HUGHIE 

Al Pacino in Hughie

Al Pacino

Al Pacino also directed this production
which went on to play on Broadway
at the Circle in the Square Theatre.

Paul Benedict and Al Pacino 

1997

DOUG HUGHES NAMED LWT'S
THIRD ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

After leading the theatre for thirty years,
Arvin Brown steps down as artistic director
leaving a legacy of theatrical excellence
including seven Tony Awards, two Pulitzer
Prizes, and dozens of world premieres.

LONG WHARF WINS THIRD PULITZER PRIZE 
WIT - by Margaret Edson

Wit Playbill THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW, NOVEMBER 16, 1997

Wit

Kathleen Chalfant starred
in LWT's world premiere.

WitLeft to Right: Walter Charles, Paula Pizzi, Alec Phoenix, and Kathleen Chalfant

1998

MARTHA PLIMPTON STARS
IN THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD

Martha Plimpton returned to
LWT in the 1999-2000 season
to star
in Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler,
also 
directed by Doug Hughes.

Jim True and Martha Plimpton

2000

THE GOOD PERSON OF NEW HAVEN -
LARGE COMMUNITY PROJECT OPENS
ON THE MAINSTAGE

The cast for this show numbered thirty-four actors
with twenty-four coming directly from the New Haven
community.  Over 300 people auditioned to be a part
of the show.

The cast and crew of The Good Person of New Haven

2001

YELLOWMAN

Over the course of Long Wharf Theatre’s history, the theatre has

cultivated relationships with artists of all disciplines. These special

relationships often yield stellar work on the stage. A recent example

would be the playwright/performer Dael Orlandersmith, whose

personal and powerful brand of storytelling would be revised

in The Blue Album and Forever

2002

GORDON EDELSTEIN BECOMES FOURTH
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Edelstein was the Associate Artistic Director 
at LWT from 1990-97 where he directed many
new works and garnered multiple CT Critics 
Circle Awards.  From 1997-2002 he was the 
Artistic Director of ACT Theatre in Seattle which 
produced several world premieres that
received subsequent New York runs.

JANE ALEXANDER STARS IN O'NEILL'S
MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA

Jane Alexander and Kevin Tighe as Christine and Ezra Manning

2003

JAMES LAPINE'S FRAN'S BED PREMIERES
STARRING MIA FARROW

Mia Farrow and Harris Yulin

Brenda Pressley and Mia Farrow

Mia Farrow

2004

LWT'S 40TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON KICKS OFF
WITH HIT GUYS AND DOLLS

With its hit production of Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls,
Long Wharf Theatre began a period where it reimagined some
of the classics of the American musical theatre. Man of La Mancha,
Carousel, and The Fantasticks were productions where the patina
of the years were burnished away, and fresh, imaginative revivals
were presented.

Elizabeth Clinard, Tia Sperros, and Shannon Lee Jones.

2005

BFE

Julia Cho’s comic, sometimes frightening story of a 14-year-old Asian-American
girl living in the desert Southwest, was a sneaky Long Wharf hit, helping to
launch the playwright’s career.


James McMenamin and Olivia Oguma.

TRAVESTIES


Sam Waterston took time out of his successful television career to star in Tom
Stoppard’s intellectual feast Travesties, which holds the record for being the
highest selling Long Wharf Theatre production in its history. He returned to the
LWT stage in The Old Masters by Simon Gray and Have You Seen Us? by Athol
Fugard.

Cheryl Lynn Bowers, Graeme Malcolm, and Maggie Lacey.

2006

UNDERNEATH THE LINTEL

This production of Glen Berger's play won three CT Critics 
Circle Awar
ds: Best Director for Eric Ting, Best Actor for
Mark Nelson, and Best Production of a Play.

Mark Nelson

2007

THE BLUEST EYE

Oftentimes, two theatres will join together to create a unique
artistic vision that neither of the other would be able to accomplish
on their own. This was the case in the 2007-08 production of
The Bluest Eye, adapted from Toni Morrison’s classic novel.
Long Wharf Theatre partnered with Hartford Stage to bring
Associate Artistic Director Eric Ting's novel visual style to
life in this powerful rendering of the play.

2008

A CIVIL WAR CHRISTMAS

Having seen many productions of A Christmas Carol, playwright Paula Vogel

bemoaned the lack of a quintessentially American Christmas story, so she

wrote one herself. Setting her story in the waning days of the Civil War,

Vogel used real life figures, including Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley,

and Robert E. Lee to weave a heartfelt tale of hope, redemption, and

forgiveness. A Civil War Christmas is, for many of LWT’s friends, a highlight

of their theatergoing experience. 

LET ME DOWN EASY

Anna Deavere Smith's solo show focussing on health and health care
premieres at LWT.


Anna Deavere Smith

2009

GORDON EDELSTEIN'S THE GLASS MENAGERIE, TRANSFERS
TO NYC & WINS 3 LUCILLE LORTEL AWARDS 

READ THE NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW

Judith Ivey won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actress for her portayal of Amanda Wingfield.  The production also won Best Revival and Gordon Edelstein won Best Director.  The rest of the cast included Josh Charles, Patch Darragh, and Keira Keeley.

2010

SYLVIA

 
Erica Sullivan and John Procaccino.

John Procaccino, one of the stars of A.R Gurney’s Sylvia, directed by
Eric Ting, has become a modern day 
Long Wharf Theatre stalwart,
appearing in nine productions, ranging from the confused 
husband
in the Gurney comedy to more serious roles in Prayer for My Enemy
and Curse 
of the Starving Class.

2011

AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'

Richard Maltby’s seminal musical review incorporates the music

of Fats Waller into a splendid evening of entertainment.


Cynthia Thomas, Doug Eskew, Debra Walton, Eugene Barry-Hill, and Kecia Lewis-Evans.

KRAPP'S LAST TAPE

After every performance, Long Wharf Theatre offers talkbacks with

a member of the creative team, giving audience members an

opportunity to respond to the work on stage in real time. Each evening,

after performances of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, actor Brian

Dennehy spoke with the audience, talking to them about the themes

of the play, the playwright’s genius, and the actor’s process.

Brian Dennehy.

2012

INTRODUCING THE CLAIRE TOW STAGE IN THE
C. NEWTON SCHENCK III THEATRE

During the summer of 2012 the LWT mainstage received an all-around upgrade
including new comfortable seats with extra leg room, an expansive new lobby
and bar, new restrooms, and a modern lighting grid.

 
CLAIRE AND LEN TOW GENEROUSLY 

KICK OFF MAINSTAGE RENOVATION

The renovation project cost $3.8 million,

$1.25 of which was generously donated by

The Tow Foundation. In gratitude for this gift,

Long Wharf Theatre has christened the

performance space The Claire Tow Stage

in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre.  

READ MORE

THE MAINSTAGE DURING AND AFTER THE RENOVATION

FEBRUARY HOUSE

Kristen Sieh, Erik Lochtefeld, and A.J. Shively.

Creating a new musical is one of the most complicated and
difficult processes one can attempt in the theatre. Working
alongside the Public Theater in New York, Long Wharf created
a lively story about a group of intellectuals, including WH Auden,
Carson McCullers, and Gypsy Rose Lee, who live, love, and learn
together in a small house in Brooklyn. 


Kacie Shiek.

MY NAME IS ASHER LEV
Winner of Outer Critics Circle Award after tranfer to Off-Broadway


 

Mark Nelson and Ari Brand In My Name is Asher Lev, by Aaron Posner, based on the novel by Chaim Potok, directed by Gordon Edelstein

SATCHMO AT THE WALDORF

Satchmo at the Waldorf, the first play by Louis Armstrong scholar
Terry Teachout, finds the jazz icon after playing what would be the
final show of his life. John Douglas Thompson, in a tour de force,
Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-winning  performance,
plays both Armstrong and his white manager, spinning the story of
their complicated relationship.  The play, directed by Gordon Edelstein
and the biggest hit in Stage II history, moved to Off-Broadway for
an extended run.


John Douglas Thompson.

2013

FENCES
Directed by Phylicia Rashad

Phil McGlaston and Esau Pritchett

August Wilson premiered much of his work across town at Yale
Repertory theatre.  In 2013, Long Wharf Theatre honored 
that legacy by
producing a critically acclaimed production 
of Fences, directed by Phylicia
Rashad, a foremost interpreter 
of Wilson’s work. Fences was the first time
LWT produced 
a play of Wilson’s.


Esau Pritchett and Portia.

2014

THE SHADOW OF THE HUMMINGBIRD

The Shadow of the Hummingbird marks the return to the stage of playwright/actor 

Athol Fugard after a 15-year absence. The play, a gentle meditation on life, love,

and death, is a continuation of the fruitful artistic relationship between Fugard 

and Gordon Edelstein. 

The set was designed by Eugene Lee, his 10th at Long Wharf. Creating heightened real world environments is Lee’s specialty, as seen in Krapp’s Last Tape, The Price, and Coming Home.

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT 50 YEARS!