In 1947, Bedford villagers excitedly visited a new movie theater, Bedford Playhouse. It boasted an advanced sound system and projection, along with modern air conditioning. Owned and designed by Joseph H. Stearns, the playhouse thrived until 1983, when the theater was divided into two smaller theaters, losing its magnificence and ultimately closing in 2015. Enter John Farr, who created a grass-roots organization to resurrect the playhouse as a 21st-century community-gathering place and cultural center.
After three years of planning and $6 million worth restoration fundraising and construction, the brand-new Bedford landmark was officially unveiled in late September. Now, three theaters set the stage for top-quality entertainment, including the 167-seat Main Theater, featuring state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment; the eponymous 40-seat space known as The Clive (for the playhouse’s largest benefactor, music mogul Clive Davis); and The Worby, a flex-use theater and event space with removable furniture. The complex will offer movie releases, author series, speaker events, art exhibits, and musical performances. The playhouse also has a new café with a full bar and light fare, in addition to swanky reclining leather theater seats.
This summer, Bedford Playhouse hosted Q&As and cocktail parties with luminaries who discussed their new films, books, and projects. More recently, the playhouse hosted cultural advisory council members Glenn Close, Paul Schrader, and Chevy Chase, and other big names, like Kerry Kennedy, Rooney Mara, and Joe Berlinger. Director of marketing Lindsay Hearon says, “The talent we’ve been able to draw in such a short time has been enormously beneficial in communicating our mission to the public — that we truly are going to be so much more than just movies.”
While an evening at the newly renovated space may feel glamorous as you cozy up to Hollywood’s elite, you’ll also find the accommodations you’d expect from a standard movie theater — like buttery popcorn and candy from a conventional concession stand.