West Fairmount Park’s “Playhouse in the Park” opened on July 30, 1952. It was the brainchild of John B. Kelly Sr., commissioner and later president of the Fairmount Park Commission (renamed Fairmount Park Conservancy in 2001).
In 1956, the tent was replaced with a permanent 1500-seat wooden structure, the country’s first “theater in the round” owned and managed by a municipality.
The Playhouse summer stock theater included “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Zorba,” “A Little Night Music” and “Kiss Me, Kate,” “The Sty of the Blind Pig,” and “The Poison Tree.”
There were programs for children, as well as jazz and blues concerts. Cannonball Adderley recorded a live album here.
A bootleg audio of the concert is available on YouTube.
The last full season was in 1979. The building was demolished in 1997. The site is now a picnic grove.