Welcome to Ridgedale Players, one of the oldest community theaters in the state! Let us tell you a little about our history.
Our group was born during the Great Depression – October 1931 to be exact. A teacher at Lincoln High School named Minna Miller Smith was asked to form a cultural group using funds provided by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. Because of widespread unemployment, morale was at a low point all over the country and this agency was formed to give people something to do. A group of 27 would-be thespians met at Mrs. Smith’s home (20 Poplar Park in Pleasant Ridge) and there our group was born. A short time later, the group was christened “Ridgedale Players” by a high school senior, who was awarded a $5 prize for suggesting the winning name. “Ridgedale” combined the names Pleasant Ridge and Ferndale. We were off and running! Our first production was a one-act, The House With the Twisty Windows, presented at Lincoln High School and cost 35 cents to see. Soon, Ridgedale Players was growing by leaps and bounds, establishing traditions that continue today.
Ridgedale Players is committed to the safety of our patrons, members, and volunteers in following the latest CDC Guidelines regarding COVID-19. The CDC does not require masks in public spaces as of this writing, but rather suggests patrons utilize masks as their comfort suggests. Ridgedale Players has masks on-hand and will provide a mask to any patron, actor, or volunteer upon request. Anyone displaying symptoms of the COVID-19 virus such as fever, cough or shortness of breath are asked to refrain from entering the theatre. If a patron, actor or volunteer tests positive for COVID-19, that individual is asked to isolate at home for 5 days, and then, if no symptoms emerge, participate while wearing a well-fitting mask for an additional 5 days. Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 with symptoms should not enter the theatre until the 10- day isolation period has elapsed. VACCINATIONS Actors age 18 and up must be fully vaccinated in order to participate in productions at the theatre. Proof of vaccination will be required at auditions. Crew/Volunteers may participate if unvaccinated but may be asked to present proof of periodic Covid-19 testing (nasal swab), and/or may be required wear a mask while in the theatre.
Newsletter and Playhouse
Our newsletter, Backstage, began publication in January 1935. The wonderful, time-honored tradition of coffee and sandwiches (the “Afterglow”) made its first appearance in February 1937. After several years of presenting plays on various rented stages, the members decided it was time we had our own playhouse.
Harry Henry was appointed chairman of the Housing Committee. After fruitless endeavors to locate a suitable stage, it was decreed that we should build our own playhouse. After much effort, a playhouse was built at the corner of Ten Mile and Republic in Oak Park. All of the members pitched in to finish the job just in time (the electricity was hooked up just hours prior to performance) for the opening of John Loves Mary. The date was January 12, 1949.
Junior actors, season tickets, and fund-raisers
Ridgedale Players continued to grow, ever-evolving, ever-changing. Junior Actors of Ridgedale was created by the membership for its children and gave its first play in 1950. At the suggestion of Jack Savage, season tickets were offered for the first time in 1957. That same year, we held our first fund-raiser, a rummage sale, much to the chagrin of some of the members who thought it “undignified.” After years of debate on the practicalities of presenting a musical on our stage, Bells Are Ringing delighted audiences as part of the 1966-67 season.
Ridgedale Players was incorporated August 9, 1948, as a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to provide its community with a rich cultural experience.
Our mission is to provide the community an opportunity to both attend and participate in quality theatrical works. Ridgedale will provide education to children and adults in the theatre arts. We shall meet these goals while providing quality productions for our audiences and shall maintain fiscally sound management.