805 North Hamilton Street, Saginaw, MI 989-754-6587
Seven members of The American Association of University Women (AAUW) met and read plays in their homes. Mrs. CH Brand offered the ballroom located in her home in the present Historic District at 129 S. Granger for the performance of two-one act plays.
The theatre group had grown to over 200 members. Mrs. George Grant, Jr. donated the use of her carriage house located on Cleveland. The space was dubbed the Barn. At this time the men who had been invited to appear in plays decided they wanted to have a say in the organization so the group withdrew from The AAUW and established Pit and Balcony. The group became PIT AND BALCONY as a reminder of Shakespeares Old Globe Theatre where the open air arena in front of the stage was called the Pit. In this area people would stand and watch the play for a penny. The Balcony housed the musicians and could also be used for scenes requiring a balcony, such as Romeo and Juliet. A season ticket cost $1.00 and the price to a single performance was 35 cents.
Still an evolving theatre group.
$15,000 was borrowed for capital improvements. Elaborate sets and costumes were available for the performance of St. Joan when a fire struck on January 19, 1943, which completely destroyed the barn. There were $11,000 in damages and only a partial coverage by the insurance.
After the fire the group moved to 413 Court, where rehearsals took place. Performances were presented at the Masonic Temple in downtown Saginaw.
•1943-1945 Performances continued at the Masonic Temple.
A move from 413 Court was necessitated due to the building being sold. Insurance money from the fire purchased an old hotel at 301 S. Hamilton. Plays continued at the Masonic Temple.
A vacant lot at Throop and Hamilton was purchased and a building campaign began.
In June ground breaking took place. A building company did the basic construction: walls, roof, structure and concrete floors. P & B members did the rest, roofing, partitions, stage and lobby. In the fall the first play in the new building was presented.
Attendance hit an all-time high with 9,677 for all five plays in the season. Prior to 1950 there was no curtain on stage.
In 1950 a curtain from the Temple Theater was donated.
Two murals 60 by 16 were painted on the side walls of the house (auditorium).
Air Conditioning was installed.
Members sewed a new red velvet curtain.
Performances continued but revenues were down due to the popularity of television.
These were lean years for Pit and Balcony, but in1965 the mortgage of $41.500 was burned and a $12,000 remodeling project began which included a new canopy, doors, paneling, tiled ceiling, new furniture and new carpeting in the lobby. Unfortunately the murals in the house were painted over. In 1968, the lean years were beaten and 2,100 season tickets were sold.
Summer classes were sponsored by the Saginaw Parks and Recreation Department. Again the mortgage for the remodeling project in the 60s was burned. The Magic Circle Players, a group of junior and senior high school students performed at various elementary schools. Getting youth involved in the theater was the main theme of the 70s.
Again remodeling at the theater began with a major lobby conversion to the present layout. In 1982 the theater marked its 50th Anniversary.
Plays continue with the help of volunteers without their dedication the theater would not be able to present the high quality of community theater productions. In 1996 the Theatre was redecorated to what you see today.
The present Theatre consists of the lobby (front of the house), offices, sound and light booth, auditorium (house), stage, backstage, props loft, and the basement. In the basement are the dressing rooms and the Green Room. The Green Room is that space in the theatre, which accommodates the performers not yet required on stage. Speakers allow the performers to hear the ongoing play. The Green Room functions as a waiting lounge. The origin of the term is often attributed to the area being historically painted green. Pit and Balcony also owns the building to the north, which houses the Costume Department.
Pit and Balcony Theatre is one of the oldest community theatres in the country.
Throughout the years, our mission has remained the same, to provide the citizens of the Saginaw area with a means of entertainment and education in the literature, theory and practical application of the science and the art of drama.
"ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE," and our most important player is YOU! As Pit and Balcony Theatre enters another season, we need your support.
Pit and Balcony Community Theatre is a non-profit arts organization that has a strong role in the realization and fulfillment of the vision of arts and culture in the Great Lakes Bay Region. In celebration of our 80th season we launched our 80 Years of Excellence fundraising campaign with a goal of $80,000.
Pit and Balcony Community Theatre had its modest beginning in 1932 when seven members of The American Association of University Women began reading plays together. Now, 80+ years later, Pit and Balcony continues to be one of the leaders in the performing arts in Saginaw. It is through the generosity of the citizens of the Great Lakes Bay Region that we continue to present quality performances.
Production costs at Pit and Balcony range from $5,000 to $12,000 per show. You can be a part of producing a show at Pit and Balcony through your financial support. Please review the sponsorship form and select your choice of support. Please see our PayPal link in the upper right of this page . We make it easy and safe to support Pit and Balcony.