A dream more than 10 years in the making comes to fruition this weekend for Stephanie Stiefel Williams, Class of 1983. The 127-seat Legacy Theatre in Stony Creek opens its doors to the public for its debut show, and Stephanie will perform on a long-dormant stage that she helped restore.
Stephanie and her co-founder, Keely Baisden Knudsen, purchased the 117-year-old Stony Creek Puppet House in 2013 and have worked tirelessly since then on a $4 million restoration project to bring the arts back to the fabled venue.
“After 10 years of a sometimes-uphill battle, we are thrilled to be breathing life into the building that used to house the Stony Creek Puppet House. Some luminaries of stage and screen – Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton, for example – once trod the boards there, and it is wonderful to be able to bring professional theater back to the area!” said Stephanie, who is both a co-founder and board president.
This weekend’s opening show, Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park, is sold-out. A full calendar for the intimate professional theater is planned featuring live shows and concerts. A Family Series also kicks off on May 1.
While the historic theater was in a state of disrepair when Stephanie and Keely purchased it for $475,000, it is now a state-of-the-art facility. The exterior looks the same – a purposeful aesthetic after consulting with the state Historic Preservation Office to preserve the building and its roots – but the inside was gutted. The interior is handicapped accessible from the box office to the stage, with lighting that can be operated from a smartphone. The ventilation is also cutting-edge.
“The building was in a state of disaster,” recalled Stephanie in an alumni story featured in the 2014 Hamden Hall Magazine
. “But there was a bond to history here, and we wanted to do what was required to have its footprint remain. We definitely knew this was the right place for the Legacy Theatre.”
Stephanie, who holds a law degree from the University of Connecticut, lives in Guilford with her husband, Luke, whose father is Hamden Hall alumnus Thomas Williams 1951. Stephanie and Luke have two children: Valerie and Ricky.Click here
to read a full article about the Legacy Theatre in Stony Creek that recently appeared in the New Haven Register