If you went to the Westport Country Playhouse any time between 1931 and 2005, you remember certain things: The tight lobby. The bench seats. The unique smell.
And the olio curtain.
Hanging in front of the main curtain, the olio — a large canvas attached at the bottom to a long rigid tube — featured painted advertisements for local businesses.
Since the WCP renovation, theater-goers have been greeted immediately by the set on stage. There is no curtain.
The current production — “The Understudy” — is a comedy that takes place in a theater. At this show, patrons see the red velvet main curtain, hanging from the proscenium arch.
So what did that olio curtain look like?
The Playhouse’s Pat Blaufuss sent along this photo:
She doesn’t know the date. But alert “06880” readers who remember Brooks Hirsch, Ann Marie’s Figure Forum and Davy Jones’ restaurant can help.
Pat also sent this photo, from the New York Times:
Just to compare, here’s the post-renovation view:
FUN FACT: Pat adds that the WCP main curtain does not have “legs” (the narrow curtains on each side of the stage).
In early vaudeville days, producers booked more performers than could possibly fill the time. That way, they could pull “bad” acts before completion.
Performers were not paid unless they actually performed onstage. The phrase “break a leg” meant breaking the visual plane of the legs that lined the side of the stage.
In other words: “Hope you break a leg and get onstage, so you get paid!”