eCREATIVE MAGAZINE FEBRUARY 2016 - Page 27

T by GIGI VAN DECKTER he White Barn Theatre, founded in 1947 at the corner of Cranbury Road and Newtown Turnpike on the Connecticut Norwalk/Westport border, made theater history for over 50 years. Lucille Lortel, an actress, producer, and artistic director, crowned The Queen of Off-Broadway by Richard L. Coe, drama critic of the Washington Post, started the White Barn where she staged hundreds of plays along with her other off-Broadway venue, The Lucille Lortel Theatre (originally named The Theatre De Lys), in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Born in 1900 to Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Lucille Lortel (left) studied acting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, making her Broadway debut with Helen Hayes. She made her way to Hollywood to star in one of the first talking pictures with Sessue Hayakawa. After marrying paper industrialist and philanthropist Louis Schweitzer, she looked for a way to express herself that, at that time, was acceptable to her husband. With the counsel of actor Danny Kaye, she started the White Barn Theatre out of the horse barn on her husband’s estate.