BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — After 45 years as a community theater, The Polka Dot Playhouse has signed an Equity theater contract and will open a new theater in downtown Bridgeport this fall.
Founded in 1954 by Yale drama student David Reed, the original Polka Dot Playhouse was located in a hall in nearby Stratford. The hall was torn down in 1962 to make way for Route I-95, and the Polka Dot resettled on Bridgeport’s Pleasure Beach. Over the next 32 years, the theater cultivated a repertory company of local actors, some of whom went on to have professional careers.
In 1994, the bridge to Pleasure Beach burned down, destroying the sole vehicular access to the theater, and has not been replaced. People’s Bank stepped in, providing a generous lease of two bank-owned buildings on downtown Bridgeport’s State Street. With the help of a $2.4 million grant from Connecticut’s Department of Economic Development, a 230-seat proscenium theater was carved out of them.
The executive producers of the Polka Dot, Rose Lodice and Guy Rocco, have been with it since 1983 and 1984, respectively, and will be opening their first season in the new theater Sept. 9 to Oct. 16 with a production of Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off.” The five-production season will also feature the musical “Annie Warbucks,” “The Beauty Queen of Leenane,” “Bus Stop” and Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s tuner “Ruthless!”