Enjoy Live Theatre
At Its Best!

Our Commitment To Great Theatre

cabrillo playhouse has been bringing comedies, drama and musicals to san clemente since 1953!

The Cabrillo Playhouse came from humble beginnings as the San Clemente Community Theatre originally established in 1953. Each year for well over half a century we have worked diligently to continue our rich tradition of being a significant cultural asset to South Orange County by providing an outlet for creative community involvement as we endeavor to enrich, educate, excite and entertain artists and audiences through a variety of performing arts in an intimate setting. Come join the fun and purchase season tickets so you don’t miss a single night of great theatre in San Clemente.

History of the Cabrillo

The San Clemente Community Theatre was chartered as a non-profit corporation on March 6th 1953

and the first president was Evangeline Nelson. On September 14, 1953 the group’s first play, Two Blind Mice, directed by Tom Gilmore, was presented at the then-called Casino, later Sebastian’s West, later South Hampton, and so on -. Following this, plays were performed “from pillar to post” … on stage in the old Las Palmas School’s all-purpose cafetorium and auditorium, as well as in the round there and at Concordia School, and the Elk’s Club.
In 1966 we became tired of shifting around and after much searching for the perfect site, the Building Committee located the old Adair home, and the adjacent lot, and we purchased it. Many of us gathered to raze what we could to clear the way for Dick Fast, our architect, and Gordon Brown, our general contractor, to create their magic. Various names were suggested for the new Theatre, and the Cabrillo Playhouse was selected from the lot. The Cabrillo Playhouse is a place where generations of San Clemente families can enjoy live theatre at its best. The Cabrillo Playhouse opened in 1966 established by the non-profit San Clemente Community Theatre.

The Cabrillo Playhouse’s Grand Premiere, on Saturday, June 11, 1966

…was televised by Ray Duncan with an NBC crew shooting several scenes from Bell, Book and Candle the opening production. We celebrated our Silver Jubilee September of 1978 with the burning of our mortgage paper on the playhouse grounds…..and now we’ve reached the Gold … .plus five!
During Bill Ray’s presidency the back stage area of the theatre was renovated to make bright, separate dressing rooms, lounge and storage areas, and new landscaping with Marquee were added. Also our image of a 59-seat “little theatre” was changed to the 66-seat theatre we enjoy today with the addition of another 7-seat row behind row F.

This History is excerpted from the 1997 writings of Omah Parker | Historian & SCCT past President 1964-66, 68-69 and 77-80:

Following Bill Ray as President was B.J. Scott, with Ray Benedicktus, Vice-president – a dynamic fundraiser. Together with a super-active Board of Directors they raised $65,000 for the 1400 square-foot addition which now houses props, scenery, and stage materials, with office space for directors and other play technicians.
In 1978 our admission prices were $4.00 for adults and $3.00 for students and military, with no season ticket program. The BOD had frequent discussions about the best way to go about introducing a season series package – but did not feel ready to tackle the mechanics of the system. In 1985 the Season Ticket Series was launched with a 6-play season ticket admission for $30.00. Today the season charge for the 6-play series is $120.00 – still the best value for live entertainment in Orange County.
The Playhouse represents the nostalgic past of our great city. Built in 1928, our building was most notable as the home if William J. Barry, the first city clerk in the history of San Clemente. The San Clemente Community Theatre was founded in 1953 and in 1966, the troupe moved right here in the process converted the historic, Ole Hanson-style home into our beloved, “intimate” 66-seat theatre.

“I envision a place where people can live together more pleasantly than any other place in America. I am going to build a beautiful city on the ocean where the whole city will be a park; the architecture will be of one type and the homes will be located on sites where nearly everyone will have his view preserved forever. The whole picture is very clear before me. I can see hundreds of white-walled homes bonneted with red tile, with trees, shrubs, hedges of hibiscus, palms and geraniums lining the drives and a profusion of flowers illuminating the patios and gardens. I can see gay sidewalks of red Spanish tile and streets curving picturesquely over the land. I want plazas, playgrounds, schools, clubs, swimming pools, a golf course, a fishing pier and a beach enlivened with people getting a healthy joy out of life.”

Quotation from Ole Hanson | San Clemente Founder

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