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America’s Oldest Theatre

By Linda Tancs

Founded in 1808, Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia is America’s Oldest Theatre. Given its historic bearing, it’s also the Official State Theatre of Pennsylvania as well as a National Historic Landmark. As with any historical property, stories abound. During a backstage tour, you’ll hear many of them, like who took the first curtain call and how the venue started as an equestrian circus. Some of the world’s most famous performers have played there, including Marlon Brando, Paul Robeson, Audrey Hepburn, Helen Hayes, Groucho Marx and Sidney Poitier. If only the walls could talk, and in some cases they do, considering that centuries-old brick is exposed in some places. The theatre is conveniently located in the heart of Center City.

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