A Short History of the Historic Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse
The playhouse was originally part of the Sunset Pavilion, built in 1869 by Frank and Mahlon Mason. Then known as The Music Room, it was built in 1887 and connected to the hotel by a piazza. It was a 60-foot by 30-foot building with polished hardwood floor and an imposing 15-foot high by 10-foot wide fireplace, with granite coping and brick shelves, at the far end.
Harry Randall purchased the Pavilion, along with The Music Room, in 1917 as an annex to the Randall House. As with most of the Grand Hotels of the period, with sprinkler systems still in the far future and smoking in vogue, the Randall House succumbed to errant ash and burned in 1925, rebuilt as what is now the Eastern Slope Inn. The Sunset Pavilion, not to be outdone, had its own flaming finish in 1940. When the Pavilion was rebuilt, The Music Room was renamed The Playhouse, which it remains today.
Over the years, it has been known as the center of North Conway’s performing arts. In the 1950s to early 1960s, a group headed by Brian Clark, an accomplished actor who is perhaps best known for a guest role on “Cheers,” presented summer dramas. While many of the shows were exciting, the playhouse still looked like a dance hall, with a flat floor.
With the birth of Mt. Washington Valley Repertory Theatre Company in 1971, theater seats were installed on risers, and plays, classics by Shaw and Shakespeare, original works and an occasional musical were performed by a talented group of Dartmouth and Williams graduates and friends, including Actors Gordon Clapp (NYPD Blue) and David Strathairn, and Filmmaker John Sayles. In 1983, Mt. Washington Valley Repertory Theatre Company changed to an all musical format, and, once again, the old Music Room was alive with song, the sound of Broadway musicals in the White Mountains.
In 2013, Arts in Motion Theater Company, a children’s based theatre company of over 20 years, acquired the lease on the Eastern Slope Inn Playhouse, and remained there until early 2019. M&D is proud to be able to continue providing its patrons the opportunity to experience all that is theatre in the Playhouse.