The Ivoryton Playhouse was built in 1908 as an employee recreation hall, and would probably have been demolished long ago, but for its chance encounter with a remarkable man named Milton Stiefel. Stiefel was an actor who eventually became the right hand and confidant of David Belasco, considered one of the greatest directors produced by the American Theatre. After Belasco's death, Stiefel continued as manager and stage director for many extravagant shows which traveled nationally, playing in every major American city. At the end of one of these tours, Stiefel came to Essex in order to rest, saw the unused recreation hall and knew it would be perfect for a resident stock company. Broken Dishes had just closed in New York (reportedly with Bette Davis in her first Broadway role), and Stiefel opened it in Ivoryton during the week of June 17, 1930. Thus the Ivoryton Playhouse came to be.
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