Actors from left Mary Melnick Melissa Jones and Maria Mikheyenko star in Palo Alto Players Men on Boats which was performed in February 2022. Courtesy Scott Lasky Palo Alto Players. Many things in Silicon Valley are older than Silicon Valley itself but a theater company with that claim is pretty unusual. Rarer still is a local theater company in its 91st season and the Palo Alto Players have not only marked that milestone but have also just announced the lineup for the companys 92nd season.
Were the longest running community theater in Silicon Valley. I always like to say that before Silicon Valley there was Palo Alto Players said Elizabeth Santana the companys managing director. She has a point The Palo Alto Players were founded in 1931 and William R. Hewlett and David Packard didnt start work in the valleys now mostfamous garage often called the birthplace of Silicon Valley until the late 1930s. In fact the HP Garage is less than a mile from the Players permanent home at 1305 Middlefield Road where the company moved in 1933 and has performed ever since. Company patron Lucie Stern donated funds to build a theater and community center which has since been named for her.
The new digs made a big difference since the Palo Alto Community House the Players first performance space was close enough to the train station that the action on stage had to pause whenever a train went by according to company history that Santana shared. Help sustain the local news you depend on. Your contribution matters. Become a member today. The Players marked their 90th anniversary in 2021 mid pandemic an echo of the tough times that spurred the companys founding Santana noted. The organization was started by a group of residents of Palo Alto who came together at another really challenging time in our history during the Great Depression. They recognized the need to lift the communitys spirits and to do that through the arts she said.
The company celebrated the milestone anniversary last year with a hybrid gala live streamed and held in person for a limited capacity crowd. The past couple years saw the company like most arts groups move its programming online for the bulk of 2020 and 2021 with the return of in person shows for the 202122 season. The company is now back to presenting inperson shows but is still offering a live streaming option. Over the years the company has staged a variety of plays and musicals including many now classics when they were new such Thornton Wilders Our Town and George S. Kaufman and Moss Harts You Cant Take it With You. The companys programming in recent years has focused on a combination of new works and classics.