Artwork by Tina White
The Summit Playhouse, a non-profit community theatre, was founded in 1918 as a World War I relief organization. Since then, we have mounted over 300 productions, and we are one of the oldest continuously operating community theatres in the United States. We produce three Main Stage shows a year, with performances in November, February/March, and April/May. Kaleidoscope Youth Theatre presents a Junior production in December and July, a full-length musical every summer, and various workshops throughout the year.
Our community service includes a benefit performance of each of our regular plays, theater awards for Dramatic Arts students, and Summit community collaborations. Our Kaleidoscope productions have traveled to various outreach locations, including special education schools, nursing homes, and children's hospitals, to share our productions with those who cannot travel to see them.
We have our own theatre, off Springfield Avenue just west of the Summit business district, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. The old stone part of the building was constructed in 1891 to house Summit's first library. At that time, the library was run by the Summit Library Association, a private, non-profit organization. In 1900, the City of Summit established a municipal library (the Summit Free Public Library), and took over day-to-day operation of the library; in 1910, the city constructed a new library building and abandoned the old building at 10 New England Avenue. It was standing empty when our founders began using it as a theatre in 1918. For the next 50 years, the Summit Playhouse Association rented it, for one dollar a year, from the Summit Library Association. During that time we maintained and improved the building, and in 1960, we added a 120-seat auditorium and converted the original 1891 building into a stage. In 1968, the Summit Library Association, now essentially defunct, officially deeded the building -- its last remaining asset -- to us.