Last night we were invited to go to the theater as guests of our friends, David and Sarah, It was a very special theatre in that the play was produced and performed by members of the Amateur Comedy Club. Which by the way does not mean that it is a comedy club as we know them today. The group puts on all kinds of plays. So far this all sounds pretty normal but….
The Historic Amateur Comedy Club
First, some history of the ACC – The Amateur Comedy Club was founded on April 18, 1884 by seven gentlemen amateur actors to produce comedies. They were all former members of the Madison Square Dramatic Organization which, as its name suggests, was devoted to the production of dramas, and they wanted a change. The Club’s first production took place a year later on February 13, 1885, at the University Club Theater. Events came full circle 25 years later when the “Comedy Club” dropped the requirement that it only produce comedies which, at that time, were usually light and forgettable things. In 1909, some “brash young members” rebelled, and since then the Club has produced comedies, tragedies and musicals. But for that change, the Amateur Comedy Club might have disappeared years ago. Instead, it is now the oldest continuously performing theatrical company in the United States.
The Clubhouse… The Club is located in two former carriage houses located in Sniffen Court, a mews on East 36th Street in Manhattan’s Murray Hill District. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, they were built in the 1860′s and acquired by the Club and adapted to their present configuration in 1918: a theatre downstairs, with a green room, work room, dressing rooms and a kitchen upstairs. A corner of the Green Room serves as the administrator’s work space.
Over the years the Club has accumulated a fascinating archive of New York theatre memorabilia, a photographic record of its productions and curious objects, some of which adorn the Green Room where members and guests congregate over coffee at intermissions. There is also carefully preserved an unbroken collection of Amateur Comedy Club playbills dating from the first production in 1885.
So as you could see this wasn’t exactly your normal theater! Add that to the fact that attendees at Friday night and Saturday night performances are required to wear black tie attire. That was almost the best part! We got dressed up; Peter in a vintage 1937 tuxedo and I in my usual black on black with a very glam 1930 ish cut velvet duster. What’s more the invitation came by email on Friday morning at 5:14am – sort of short notice!
AND Peter had an operation on Wednesday (and not really all that minor) and came home on Thursday and here it was Friday and he was out on the town in a tux by Friday night. I can tell you if it had been me who had the operation I would be in my pajamas till Sunday.
The play, Ramshackle Inn was a hilarious comedic murder mystery that took place in a run-down hotel in Maine. The casting was terrific, the member/actors wonderful and the whole evening a delight. After the play, we all went back upstairs to the Green Room where we enjoyed a couple of glasses of champagne. Peter was of course, in his element, surrounded by women in evening and cocktail dresses and I and every other woman in the place appreciated the male contingency all dapper in tuxedos. Don’t men know that women LOVE to see men in tuxedos?
Lori, Peter and David in the Green Room
Chris (actor) and Peter
And as true New Yorkers, we left the theatre and hopped on a bus going uptown, Only in New York do you see a tuxedo-clad gentlemen and his date riding a public bus uptown!!
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