Orson Welles, William Castle And The Stony Creek Theater
William Castle is best known as the director and producer of a series of B-horror films of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s who upped his reputation in the late ‘60s as producer of the classic Rosemary’s Baby.
Orson Welles is best known as the wunderkind stage and film director-producer-writer-actor and film auteur of what is arguably the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane.
But what both men had in common—master of middlebrow suspense and imperfect genius of the stage and screen—was a little summer theater in the hamlet of Stony Creek on 128 Thimble Island Road in Branford.
According to Castle’s autobiography, he was a 25-year-old in 1939 and hungry to make his mark in show business when he obtained Orson Welles’s telephone number and persuaded him to lease him the Stony Creek Theatre, which Welles used the previous summer to re-fashion a play by William Gillette. That production, Too Much Johnson, was supposed to have featured a mix of film and live performances but turned out to be a legendary disaster with the cinema aspects never making it to the production and audiences baffled by what was happening on stage.
From these sketchy details playwright Joe Landy has fashioned a new play, The Wicked Stage, which will be presented as a kind of in-rehearsal performance at the Stony Creek Museum on Friday, April 5 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 6 at 2 and 7 p.m.
Proceeds will help in the restoration of the now-shuttered theater, which will be re-opened as the Legacy Theatre in the coming years.