Biography and History

The McCarter Theatre was conceived as a permanent home for the Princeton University Triangle Club. It opened on February 21, 1930.

McCarter began as a booking theater. The McCarter Theatre did not produce its own shows, rather they booked touring shows and performers. During the 1930s, McCarter was often used by Broadway producers as a venue for previews of shows yet to debut on Broadway. The theatre also hosted Princeton University Concerts prior to their moving to Richardson Auditorium.

Following World War II, many Broadway producers reduced the number of non-Broadway previews virtually eliminating one of McCarter’s main revenue generators. Mounting debt forced the theater to transfer the title and the building and the reasonability of its operating costs to Princeton University. Now a University entity, Princeton hired Milton Lyon as Executive Director of the newly McCarter Theatre Company in 1960 McCarter. Lyon immediately transformed McCarter, turning it from a booking theater into a producing theater. McCarter Theatre flourished under Lyon and his successors Arthur Lithgow, Michael Kahn, Nagle Jackson, and most recently, Emily Mann. McCarter significantly increased its music and dance bookings in the 1960s and remains known for offering a wide variety of quality performances in the arts.

Today, the McCarter Theatre Company continues to produce its own shows and serves as the home for Princeton University theater.

Source: From the finding aid for AC131

  • McCarter Theatre Records. 1928-2016 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC131

    The McCarter Theatre was conceived as a permanent home for the Princeton University Triangle Club. McCarter began as a booking theater but ultimately moved into producing its own performances. The McCarter Theatre records document the history of the McCarter Theatre, including administration, performances and productions, and the building itself.

  • Princeton Playgoers, Inc. records. 1941-1942 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC315

    Princeton Playgoers, Inc. was a theater production company formed in 1942, during the wartime period when the engagements of Triangle Club were limited. The records consist of financial records, correspondence, records of ticket sales, advertisements, contracts, and other materials documenting the planning and production of plays at McCarter Theatre in the summer of 1942.

  • Igor Stravinsky Collection. 1964-1967 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1219

    Consists of correspondence and documents relating to the Princeton commission of Requiem Canticles by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, considered by many in both the West and his native land to be the most influential composer of 20th-century music.