A HISTORY OF THE GATEWAY PLAYHOUSE

 

 

The Gateway Playhouse was built around 1910 and initially used as a warehouse.   Around 1920, the building was converted and used as a silent movie house until 1927 when the first talking film, The Jazz Singer, was released.  When "Talkies" came into fashion, the building was leased by the Shriver Theatre Company, and became known as the Seaside Theater.  In 1957 Prudential purchased the old Gateway Casino, originally located at the foot of the bridge to Ocean City (Rt. 52), to utilize for office space.  The Gateway Casino was then forced to relocate operations, and so moved into the present location at Bay and Higbee Avenues.  The CinemaScope Screen was removed and the stage was expanded to accommodate musical productions, hosting well known stars such as Edward Everett Horton, Constance Bennett, Veronica Lake, Stu Erwin, Bess Meyers and Werner Klemperer. During the off-season, sub-run movies would be shown.  This arrangement folded in 1964 when the Gateway Casino went out of business.  The Shriver Theater Company then renovated the building in 1965.  It re-opened as a movie theater in July of that year with the MGM Musical, Unsinkable Molly Brown, starring Debbie Reynolds. The building remained a movie theater until 1976 when Producer Paul Aiken Jr, took over operation as the South Jersey Regional Theater, bringing live performance back to Somers Point.  Mr. Aiken made live theater a year-round operation at the Gateway and employed Actors Equity Association (AEA Union) members, as well as local performers.  Upon Paul’s death in 1999, Bill Marshall took over operations of the theater.  During this time the building was beginning to show its age.  In 2006 the Gateway Playhouse was purchased by the City of Somers Point and immediately closed due to structural concerns.  Subsequently, the Theater Collaborative of South Jersey was established with the goal of refurbishing the building and restoring its history of live theater and music.  With the help of grants from the Pepsi Refresh Program, Shore Medical Center, contributors, and community donations, the building has gone under an extreme makeover.  The Playhouse was gutted down to the cinder block and sand and has been rebuilt from the ground up.  The Gateway Playhouse re-opened in August of 2017 as a year-round Playhouse featuring musicals, plays, concerts, and performances for the South Jersey Region.

 

 

                                       VERONICA LAKE                                    DEBBY REYNOLDS                      WERNER KLEMPERER

 

 

SEASIDE MOVIE THEATER 1920'S

 

 

GATEWAY PLAYHOUSE 1958

 

 

GATEWAY PLAYHOUSE 1980'S

 

 

PEPSI REFRESH PSA FOR THE GATEWAY PLAYHOUSE