The Ledges Playhouse is a unique 348 seat theatrical venue, located inside Fitzgerald Park in Grand Ledge, Michigan. The rustic exposed wood creates an ambiance unlike any other venue.
The seating is comfortably spaced and nicely raked, providing a good view from any seat in the house. The stage type and shape is also unique, providing an interesting mix between a thrust style stage and a standard proscenium style stage.
The all-wood interior provides comfortable and forgiving acoustics, adding a nice warm tone to music performances and allowing stage vocals to be clearly heard throughout the auditorium.
The Ledges Playhouse is a Michigan gem, and deserves to be seen and enjoyed by Michigan audiences and performers. Read on for more information about the history of the Playhouse.
Early Years (1895 - 1919)
Spiritualists came to Grand Ledge in 1895 to hold summer camp meetings in the woods by Sandstone Creek and the Grand River. About that year local carpenter John Rosenberger built a large pavilion to hold lectures and séances. The large open structure was much like the casino built on Third Island at about this time.
The spiritualists used this camp for about fifteen years. After 1910, the camp and pavilion were home to Free Methodists summer meetings.
Mixed Use Years (1919-1955)
In 1919, the City of Grand Ledge bought the property and created Riverside Park. The pavilion saw many uses, as a skating rink, dance hall, and general community meeting place. In 1943 it briefly served as the site of a factory.
In 1955 the Grand Ledge Improvement Association was formed to find a new use for the building. A summer theater seemed the answer, and Dr Gordon Horrod led the effort to convert the building into a summer theater.
A new floor and stage were built, and seating from the old Capital Theater in downtown Lansing was installed.
Live Theatre Years (1956-Present)
In 1956 Ledge's Playhouse was born. Bill Slout from Vermontville, formed the Slout Players when he came here to open the playhouse. The Slouts left in 1961, and then the theater was used by Harold Hanson and Lael Woodbury, from Utah, for a few seasons.
In 1966 John Peakes and Richard Thomsen came to Grand Ledge and formed Boarshead Theater. Boarshead used the summer theater until 1975 when they found a permanent year-round home in Lansing.
After sitting empty for several years, Len Kluge and Bob Robinson formed the Spotlight Actors Workshop in 1983. Spotlight provided local summer theater to Grand Ledge until 2003.
In 2006 the City of Grand Ledge leased the theatre to Kevin Burnham and Tanya Canady-Burnham who formed Ledges Playhouse Theatre Company/Capital TheatreWorks. Capital TheatreWorks performed in the space until 2010.
In late 2011, the City leased the Playhouse to Over the Ledge Theatre Company. Over the Ledge Theatre Company was formed, in part, to ensure that the Playhouse remains an active space for Michigan residents to discover and enjoy.
In 2000, Spotlight theatre became worried about the condition of the old pavilion and turned to the community for help. The organization Spotlight on the Spotlight was formed (now the Ledge's Playhouse Restoration Committee) in partnership with the City, The Chamber of Commerce, Eaton County Parks Department, and the Historical Society.
Under the leadership of the Ledges Playhouse Restoration Committee, many improvements have already been made to the building.
In 2005, mesh fencing was installed around the base of the building to prevent critters from taking up residence in the Playhouse, and the existing raccoon population was safely trapped and relocated. The mesh fencing has been effective, and since 2005 the Playhouse has remained raccoon free.
In 2007, an electrical patch system was installed to make lighting the space an easier task.
In 2010, the complete exterior was repainted to be a consistent barn-red color, improving the look of the exterior of the building.
In 2011, an additional 50 seats were sent out to be recovered.
Further improvements and restoration efforts are under way, and the Ledges Playhouse Restoration committee is hard at work raising funds to do so. Donations to this cause are gratefully accepted.
For more information contact us or call Marilyn Smith (President of the Ledges Playhouse Restoration Committee) at 517-627-5170.