The Clague Playhouse had its origin in a small community theater group begun by the Bay Village Women’s Club in 1928. The group was known as the Bay Village Players, and performed in any place they could – barns, church basements, school gyms or auditoriums, or any other space they could find.
In the summer of 1967, it was learned that the former Clague home in Westlake’s Clague Park might be made available for rent, along with the nearby barn. The Bay Village Players and the newly formed Westlake Historical Society met with Mayor Roman and a compromise lease arrangement was made. Under the terms of the two leases, the Players, having been re-named the Clague Playhouse, and the Westlake Historical Society would have joint use of the Clague House. On November 30, 1967, the Playhouse performed Sunday in New York to a packed “barn” of dignitaries, inaugurating the new 85-seat intimate theater.
After many successful seasons, of five plays each season, the Playhouse suffered a serious setback in 1986. Water damage caused the barn to be closed for major renovations. After playing in local schools, churches, etc. for five years, the sweat and hard work to renovate and restore the theater was accomplished for the opening of the 64th season on October 4, 1991 with the Cleveland-area premiere of a new musical, Closer Than Ever.
On May 18, 1996, Mayor Clough, the Board of Directors, and members of Clague Playhouse gathered for the ground breaking ceremony for the 20’ by 70’ addition. The addition, dedicated on October 20, 1996 now houses our props, costumes, scene shop and a multi-purpose/dressing room.
Recent renovations include a custom designed Box Office and lobby area due to generous donations from Vera Mang’s family, Patricia McRoberts and George & Joanne Theis. In the fall of 2012, donations from Patricia McRoberts, In Memory of Claudine Clinton and funds raised through raffles and our annual Barn Sale were used to purchase an electronic street sign.
In the summer of 2016, our auditorium received a much need face lift.
The 93 seats were refurbished (saving them from a landfill) – new padding and fabric, armrests refinished, new carpet installed, tech booth window and cable ports enlarged, stage floor scraped (about 1/2″ of paint!), and the interior repainted. Various private donations and funds raised through the Barn Sale, Jewelry Heist, and Name-A-Seat, covered all the renovation expenses.
To celebrate Clague Playhouse’s 90th Season and 50th in the Barn, a dinner was held on August 19, 2017. To illustrate the expanse and variety of productions during those 90 years, we dug into our archives for photos. We were overwhelmed. Those that we found are mounted on multiple displays. Only news clips were found for the “Early Years” panel, and in some cases photos were unavailable due to cancellations of productions for repairs, upgrades, or renovation or photos were lost. The early news clips, however, did reveal several titles of plays: The Happy Ending, Double Door, The Wonder Hat, There’s Always Tomorrow, Tobacco Alley, Susan and God, The 13th Chair, Late Love, The Male Animal, Enchanted Cottage, Three Taps at Twelve.
On March 9, 2018, we celebrated the selection of 3 new Honorary Lifetime Members, “Al” Archambault, Bernice Bolek and Ron Newell. These 3 individuals have each been active at Clague for over 20 years – onstage, backstage, serving on our Board, creating wonderful sets or organizing various fundraisers. We are truly fortunate that they have shared their talents with us! Congratulations!
Throughout its history, Clague Playhouse has been truly a community theater. We are a non-profit organization served by countless hours of volunteer help. The membership of the Playhouse is made up of individuals from all walks of life. This varied membership elects a Board of Directors, who see to the overall operations of the theater. As we continue our 90th season and our 50th in the Barn, we are reminded “Because of you, our tradition continues…”