When I was in high school, I ushered at the Long Wharf Theatre.
Between matinees at the Schubert and the occasional trips to New York I was falling desperately in love with theatre, so when I began ushering on weekday nights at the Long Wharf, I could not believe how lucky I was to enjoy a steady diet of good, live theatre. Later on, I rounded the menu out with trips to the Yale Rep.
The Long Wharf began in 1965, with Arvin Brown as its first Artistic Director. He would remain in that position for thirty years. At the time I was ushering, the theatre worked like a proper repertory company. You would see the same actors, with the occasional guest star for the whole season. Martha Schlamme, Joyce Ebert (who was married to Arvin Brown) and Charles Chiofi were some of the names that come to mind.
During my high school years, I saw Tartuffe, Tiny Alice, Spoon River Anthology, Playboy of the Western World, The Rivals, Glass Menagerie. and many more. And I saw each one three or four times. I only just realized how nice it was of my dad to drive home to Branford from New Haven, where he worked, and back to New Haven, to take me to the Long Wharf, and then back again at curtain fall. (Of course, Long Wharf never HAD a curtain, but still) It was a wonderful education for a young aspiring actress, and when Mildred Dunnock, who I saw play Amanda in Glass Menagerie four times, leaned over to me at the curtain call to stay back, because she wanted to talk to me, I was struck dumb.
“You want to be an actress, don’t you?”
What followed, was a half an hour Q and A, and it was just the two of us. She was marvelous.