Our History

Explore our 90-year archive of professional theater in Westport.

Originally built in 1835 as a tannery manufacturing hatters’ leathers, the building that would become Westport Country Playhouse was in 1880 turned into a steam-powered cider mill, and later abandoned in the 1920s.

Splendidly transformed into a theater in 1931, it initially served as a try-out house for Broadway transfers, evolving into an established stop on the New England straw hat circuit of summer stock theaters through the end of the 20th century.  Following a multi-million dollar renovation completed in 2005, the Playhouse became a producing, non-profit, regional theater, preserving its original charm and character.

The Playhouse archives were developed through a generous gift in memory of Jessica Waldman and her love of theatre.


2023 Season

A reduced season with two fully produced theatrical productions, and two smaller shows with shorter runs. The board of trustees implemented a new plan to transform the Playhouse into a performing arts center with programming for a broader audience while continuing to produce theater.
Look back at 2023

2022 Season

In our first in-person season after the COVID-hiatus, we welcomed audiences home to the Playhouse with five stories of triumph, family, and hope.
Look back at 2022

2021 Season

Theater reconceived to excel in a virtual environment — for both theatermakers and audiences. Stories that speak to our times and productions that we want to revisit again. All content was made available on-demand.
Look back at 2021

2020 Season

When the 90th season is postponed due to the global pandemic, the focus is on online content to connect with a stay-at-home audience.
Look back at 2020



The shepherd for the Playhouse’s future is found in Mark Lamos as artistic director. He is attracted by the theater’s important contribution to the history of American, as well as Connecticut, theater.
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Enter Joanne Woodward as artistic director whose goal is to renovate the Playhouse and support the transition from summer stock to a year-round, regional theater. Following a multi-million dollar renovation, the Playhouse reopens for its 75th anniversary season.
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Throughout Jim McKenzie’s 41 seasons, the Playhouse stages recent Broadway successes, classics, and new works with some of the country’s top actors, and in 1990 is entered on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places.
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When the Playhouse’s future is threatened by a shopping center developer, Jim McKenzie leads 27 theater supporters to create the Playhouse Limited Partnership, thus saving the theatrical treasure from the wrecking ball.
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The Playhouse’s executive producer James B. McKenzie originates “star packages,” rehearsing 10 plays in New York every June, and sending them to 10 different summer theaters, playing a week in each.
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As the Langners turn the operations over to a new management team, Westport Country Playhouse becomes an established stop on the New England straw-hat circuit of summer stock theaters.
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"Westport Country Playhouse was never intended to be operated solely as a local 'summer' theatre, but always set the larger theatre of America as the ultimate goal of its productions." – Lawrence Langner
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The Langners run the Playhouse first as a Broadway try-out house, then as a summer theater, bringing to Westport some of the most celebrated names in entertainment of the era.
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Lawrence Langner and his wife Armina Marshall Langner find an old barn, near their Weston home and far from the Broadway spotlight, in which to establish a resident acting company and experiment with new plays and reinterpretations of classics.
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