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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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GR Civic Theater

GR Civic Theater

GRHC - January 11th, 2012

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre has a long history in Grand Rapids, and its actors trod the boards in old Germania Hall during their early days.



An article in a September 1927 Grand Rapids Chronicle claimed, “The Grand Rapids Civic Players may constitute one of the most interesting and significant chapters in the artistic history of the city.” Organized in January of that year, with a charter membership of 30, their count by September numbered more than 350. The annual dues were $5, which included admission to the six plays of the season, opportunities to study dramatic direction, to participate in amateur plays, and to serve on the organization’s committees.

Director Paul Stephenson came to Grand Rapids after two years with the Ypsilanti Little Theater. The season ran from mid-October to the end of April. Their first production that October was a four-act play by Thornton Wilder, “The Trumpet Shall Sound”. Opening night performances were for members only; the second night was open to the public. Plays were presented at the Civic Players Theater, formerly the Germania Society Auditorium at 430 Front Ave. The hall could seat approximately 1000 people, had a stage of ample proportions, and a café where refreshments were served.

Germania Hall, which had been opened October 27, 1888, by the German Benevolent Association, was one of the oldest halls in the city. In earlier days it had been a beer garden that featured burlesque, after the Volstead Act it metamorphosed into a church, and for the third phase it was transformed into the Civic Players Theater. 

Full Details

TitleGR Civic Theater
KeywordsGlance at the Past, Civic Theater, stage, plays, Germania Hall, acting, radio, history, Grand Rapids, historical commission
Pubdate StringJanuary 11th, 2012

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