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The following timeline was primarily created from a wonderful book by Bojan Hamlin Jennings
titled Priscilla Beach Theatre (January 2000).

Mrs. Jennings is not only an accomplished published author but also and accomplished chemist
who taught at Wheaton College in Massachusetts and happens to live in one PBT’s original houses
that sites on the bluff overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

“As my relationship with this small theatre progressed, I became convinced that the saga of Priscilla
Beach Theatre should be recorded. Not only because of my personal interest, but more importantly
because PBT has from its beginning had unusual, if not unique, aspects which earn it a place in the
chronicles of American theatre”
- Priscilla Beach Theatre by Bojan Hamlin Jennings 2000

To order Priscilla Beach Theatre by Bojan Hamlin Jennings, please contact her at
ajennings@adelphia.net
.

 
1907 8/17/1907 Albert Franklin Trask born in Boston Massachusetts
1930 Albert Franklin Trask graduates from Boston University with a degree in Education and takes a teaching job at the Frost School in Westford Massachusetts .
1931 Franklin marries Agnes Hawley. At this time Agnes was Director of Music in the Broward County Florida public school system and she was also helping a friend set up local talent shows.
1932 Franklin & Agnes create a local talent business called New England Producing Company (later renamed to National Association of Dramatics). They set up shop in West Hartford , Connecticut . This venture end in 1934 – “We had competitor and were finally done in. They infiltrated us” – A. Franklin Trask 1996
1934

Trasks returns to Westford Massachusetts and converts a barn into a theatre. This new venture was called the National Little Theatre Guild.

Brochures were sent to colleges announcing their “Summer Colony and Workshop of the Theatre”

80 young men and women were enrolled the first summer.

1936 The Trasks leave Westford seeking more fertile grounds for their Theatre Colony.
1936

The Trasks buy land in Manomet Massachusetts known as the Old Taylor Estate for $12,500 on 10/15/1936

“It included several buildings and a huge barn, and I decided to purchase it within five minutes of seeing it” – A. Franklin Trask 1996

They converted the barn into a theatre and called it The Priscilla Beach Drama Festival. They followed the same format they had in Westford with student actors living on the premises, studying and taking part in all aspects of theatre.

1940 James Lonigro born in Chicago Illinois
1940 Student enrollment had grown to 120
1944

The Trasks form the Boston Stock Company and rented Brattle Hall in Cambridge Massachusetts (The Brattle Street Theatre) to extend their summer season in Plymouth to a winter season in Cambridge.

This venture lasted until 1950 when the Brattle Street Theatre was sold out from under them.

1945

Boston Globe (Parade Magazine 9/9/1945) – columnist Robert L. Wheeler sketched the activities at the Priscilla Beach Drama Festival which he called “a nationally known institution systematically shopped by talent scouts”

“Priscilla Beach gets the cream of the young acting talent of America… Applicants are carefully winnowed to keep out youngsters who have no serious bent for the stage

It has to be a good rugged ego that survives the course in theatrical realities offered by Dr Trask and a faculty of 14 instructors and directors.”

1945 Jim Lonigro has acting debut at age of 5 with the Jack and Jill Players (a well known drama school in Chicago )
1947

Gloria Swanson at PBT as a guest artist

1947 Pat Caroll student at PBT (acclaimed stage and big screen actress)
1948 Paul Newman student at PBT
1950s

Robert MacNeil student at PBT (MacNeil/Lehrer PBS News Hour)

1956 Jean Seberg student at PBT – “Not yet eighteen, she arrived in Plymouth from her small hometown in Iowa ” – Jennings 2000
1956

Franklin Trasks temporarily moves theatre productions.

Convinced that the theatre would attract more patrons if it was more centrally located, he moved the productions to “The New Mayflower Summer Theatre”, a theatre in the round that he built on route 3A in Manomet . Productions were returned to the barn the following season.

1958

Jim Lonigro joins the Miramar Seminary in Duxbury Massachusetts after the priest from the seminary told him that the route from Chicago to Duxbury was via New York City.

“I knew that if I joined the seminary, I’d get to see Broadway on my way to see God, and that would be a dream come true”

1959

Jim Lonigro quits the seminary.

Father Dudink’s parting advise to the young Jim Lonigro:

“Whatever you do in life, don’t choose a profession that involves contact with other people”

1961 Jim Lonigro graduates from American Academy of Dramatic Arts
1961

“Dr Trask had begun developing part of the theatre property into residential housing. The prospect of continuing in that direction looked promising and profitable so he decided to sell the Priscilla Beach Theatre and devote himself to real estate full time” - Preston Hanson (PBT, 1947) in his unpublished article, A Life: Dr A Franklin Trask

1961

James Lonigro & Leon Mehalick purchase PBT. Below is an excerpt from a 1996 Jim Lonigro interview describing his first viewing of the theatre:

“I arrived on a cold wintry day, snow several feet high. Dr Trask got out a secret key and led me in. There was no electricity, it was pitch dark inside. We stood on the stage with a flashlight he pointed to the wing area and the loft, on up into the fly area. He scanned the old seats, black everywhere except for the eerie, moving light. I was thrilled by the very idea that it could be mine, and almost without thinking I said, I’ll take it’

1962 Jim Lonigro performs as a guest artist in Ladies in Retirement at Marymount, a women’s college in Tarrytown , NY . There he meets Rosann Weeks, a drama major, and others whom he persuades to come to PBT to be part of that first summer.
1962

6/26/1962 Jan deHartog’s The Fourposter opens the season and the ‘ Jim , Leon & Rosann’ era.

1963

Kitty Winn student at PBT (Exorcist & Cannes Film Festival award)

1965

Rob Reiner student at PBT (TV, films & directing…)

Al Brooks student at PBT (TV, film, screenwriter, director…)

1965 Jim & Leon buy the “white house” to use a living quarters. The previous few summers they had use the nearby Manomet Manor. The deal also included the property in front of the barn to use as a parking area.
1966

Sheilia Russell student at PBT (TV, films & directing)

Andrew Lack student at PBT (President of NBC News)

1967 Veronica Lake at PBT as a guest artist
1968

Unable to generate much of a profit, PBT is sold to Mr Belfaunce of Akron Ohio . Jim & Leon hold the mortgage. The season was not successful.

1969

PBT sold again to Mr Fernandes. The season was not successful.

1971 PBT ownership return to Jim & Leon. Barn and white house renovated.
1973

Rosann Weeks serves as the both producer and artistic director, with Victoria Fraser as co-producer and leading lady.

1974

PBT rented to Mitchell Maxwell and Paul Harman, students at Tufts University who had produced musicals with an undergraduate group called “Torn Ticket”. This group produced five musicals each 10 week summer season and produced high quality theatre for 3 seasons (1974-1976)

1975

Jim Lonigro starts going by Geronimo Sands

1977

PBT rented to George Ela and Nancy McArthur. Both were active in the Hingham Massachusetts theatre community and they combined forces to form “Macandela Productions”. This group featured community theatre productions and lasted 2 seasons.

1979

Ownership of theatre changes from Jim Lonigro & Leon Mehalick to Jim Lonigro & Anne Joelle Lonigro (Jim’s younger sister)

1979

Anne Joelle takes charge of PBT’s season with an ambitious plan Plymouth Arts One Festival” designed to turn PBT into a true performing arts center. The public had little interest in this overly ambitious plan and the next few seasons were a disappointment except for the Children’s Theatre Workshop.

1979

Agnes H Trask died of complications from diabetes. Agnes was one of the most beloved figures in PBT history and served as a role model to many young actors in the 1930-1940s. As a memorial, Franklin Trask donates three buildings on a large track of ocean front land in Manomet to the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston .

1981

Anne Joelle’s production team includes Geronimo, Marnie DeMarsh, Peg Holzemer, Ron Moran and 1966 alumni James (Max) Gorgal. Gorgal converts the actors dinner hall in the white house into a small “black box theatre” called LeStudio and PBT begins to operate year round.

1982

PBT begins to focus primarily on children’s theatre workshops

1984

PBT Touring Company takes shape with the help of Mr Montagna. Over then next few years, this effort took PBT productions on tour to various town in Massachusetts , England and France .

1986

Andrew Neilson joins PBT staff and becomes and integral part of PBT operations for the next 20 years.

1989 PBT begins a series of 15 hour-and-half programs on local cable TV titled “The State of the Arts with Geronimo Sands and his Friends”.
1993

Angelica Torn, daughter of Rip Torn and Geraldine Page joins PBT troupe for the 1993 and 1994 seasons.

1998

Geronimo Sands takes leave from PBT to perform several roles in New York City . One role was Henry Albertson in The Fantastics at the Sullivan’s Playhouse (the longest running musical in the history of the theatre).