Biography and History

In the summer of 1948 a group of seven Princeton student and alumni who were affiliated with Theatre Intime during the academic year started the University Players in Murray Theatre. The University permitted the use of the theatre and dormitory rooms over the summer provided that there would be no costs to the school. The group took the same name as a group started in 1928 at Falmouth, Massachusetts by some earlier Princeton students (as well as undergraduates from Harvard and a number of other colleges). The leaders of this second University Players company included John Capsis '50, Morris Kinnan '50, and Karl Light '47. Most of the male actors were either Princeton undergraduates or recent alumni. Local talent was drawn upon to cast the women's roles. The group, albeit with enlarged staff, continued to produce as a non-profit enterprise over the next two summers.

Due to the Korean War there were no productions during the summers of 1951 and 1952. But 1953 saw a revival of spirit and activity under the leadership of Charles “Chiz” Schultz '54. A professional was hired to direct some of the shows, and the company brought in actors from the ranks of the alumni, such as Philip Minor '50 and A. Monroe Wade '30, who were now Equity card-carrying actors. Some of the men's roles as well as the women's were played by experienced actors from the community. The 1954 season was much the same, again produced by Mr. Schultz.

In 1955 the theatre was again dark, probably reflecting a lack of capable leadership and interest in producing summer theatre.

During the summer seasons from 1956 through its final season in 1960, the University Players continued its tradition of Princeton men as producers, but increasingly adding more professionals to fill both men's and women's roles. Sometimes these included recent Princeton alumni such as Wayne Rogers '54, for example. The roster of non-Princeton professional actors who worked for the organization over the years, however, is at the very least interesting to note. It includes Vinette Carroll, Donald Moffatt, Gerald Hiken, George Segal, Rosemary Murphy, Suzanne Pleshette, Peter Falk, and Maria Tucci – all aspiring, all reflecting the youthful vitality and hope of the University Players. But by now the organization was far less Princeton-oriented than it had been in earlier years.

By 1960, despite good reviews, the group was losing money. The University advised its leadership that they would need to raise substantial funds and community support or move to another location. Plagued by the financial problems, in 1961 the organization was told that it would be unable to use Murray Theatre that summer due to major renovations to that facility. Thus the group was forced to dissolve.

Source: From the finding aid for AC381

  • University Players Collection. 1948-1961 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC381

    The collection consists mainly of playbills, photographs, and clippings of press announcements and reviews of the University Players, a youthful group of Princetonians aspiring toward careers in the performing arts. Not entirely comprised of Princeton alumni and undergraduates, however, the organization provided experience and training for many hopefuls who have in fact succeeded in that goal. Taking its name from an earlier group with the same ambitions and who also made great contributions to American theatre and film, it provided the Princeton community with some exciting and meritorious summer theatre for more than a decade.

  • University Players Collection. 1948-1961 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC381

    The collection consists mainly of playbills, photographs, and clippings of press announcements and reviews of the University Players, a youthful group of Princetonians aspiring toward careers in the performing arts. Not entirely comprised of Princeton alumni and undergraduates, however, the organization provided experience and training for many hopefuls who have in fact succeeded in that goal. Taking its name from an earlier group with the same ambitions and who also made great contributions to American theatre and film, it provided the Princeton community with some exciting and meritorious summer theatre for more than a decade.