Children's Theatre of Maine History


Children's Theatre of Portland (CTP) is founded by the Junior League of Portland, making it the oldest continuously operating children's theatre in the United States.


With help from the National Board of the Junior League, the Children's Theatre presents its first official production, The Tinderbox, adapted from the tales of Hans Christian Anderson. A representative from the National Children's Theatre Department in New York visits CTP.


Two CTP traditions are born: children are cast as performers in a production of Tom Sawyer; and CTP produces a three-play season running concurrent with the school year.


CTP organizes its first production staff and secures the Chadwick Street Workshop for rehearsals.


The Children's Trailer Theatre spends its first summer traveling around Portland's playgrounds and parks, funded by the City of Portland Parks and Recreation Department. The mobile shows entertain more than 3,000 children, and theatres from around the world requested blueprints of CTP's innovative collapsible stage.


CTP sponsors a series of 15-minute broadcasts for children each Saturday morning on WCSH.


CTP is invited to perform Johnny Appleseed at the Fourth Annual Children's Theatre Conference in New York's Central Park. CTP is the only one of the three performing companies with strictly amateur status.


Margaret Dutton becomes CTP's first full-time, paid Director. Her commitment to collaboration leads to joint projects with a dance school, the Student Philharmonic, and an art school.


KoKo the Clown makes his CTP debut, preparing the audience for each show and entertaining between acts.


Actors Bette Davis and Gary Merrill move to Maine and adopt the Children's Theatre as a pet project. Davis arranges for her film Virgin Queen to premiere in Portland and donates all proceeds to CTP.


CTP's Quixote is chosen as the only children's production at the distinguished Barn Gallery in Oqunquit. University of Maine Orono's public television station records the production.


The Children's Theatre of Portland becomes the Children's Theatre of Maine.


CTM re-enters a partnership with the Junior League of Portland in an effort to develop the Theatre into a professional organization and make it eligible for funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.


A $100 cash prize is offered to the winner of the Children's Theatre's first playwriting contest.


The Children's Theatre expands its commitment to the production of original work, including plays and musicals written by children.


The Children's Theatre is awarded a $36,000 grant by the Boston-based Jessie B. Cox Foundation, to be used to expand the theatre's Artist in Residence Shakespeare program throughout the state of Maine. The Children's Theatre also takes on some mature themes in productions, including season-opening To Kill a Mockingbird.


An updated version of Romeo and Juliet debuts at the Children's Theatre.


CTM's summer production of Odd at Sea is held on the Children's Museum of Maine's backyard Pirate Ship; in the fall, CTM stages Kitchen Table Fables, their first production in the Museum's Dress Up Theatre.


The Children's Theatre of Maine merges with the Children's Museum of Maine, and the Museum is renamed Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine. The Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine produces a highly successful four-show season of theatre by children and for children.

Click here for our history as Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine.

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