|Rabbit Run showcases
phenomenal community theater in an 1800's barn
Published: Friday, June 24, 2011, 5:00 AM
By Linda Chojnacki The Plain Dealer
If you enjoy theater and are looking for a unique
evening out, then you’ll want to visit Rabbit Run Theater in Madison. It’s
a one-of-a-kind barn theater that is producing unbelievable productions.
What is Rabbit Run Theater all about?
Karen Ziegler, publicist and manager of group sales: Rabbit Run Theater
started in the late 1940s by a brother-sister team, Will and Rooney Klump.
The barn, which was built in the 1800s, was owned by the family and it was
a working barn. Will and Rooney both had a love for theater. After Will
got back from World War II, they converted the barn into a theater. It was
summer stock, and during the first year of production all of the actors
were World War II veterans. The theater caught on very quickly, and they
were selling out the house. Their mother had a home nearby and she would
house and feed the actors.
How did the theater get its name?
Karen: When it was a working farm, one of the main crops was broccoli,
which attracted a lot of rabbits. In fact, there were so many rabbits that
they beat down little trails or runs. When the Klumps decided to turn the
barn into a theater, they thought, “Rabbit Run, that’s a catchy name.”
People really remember the name, and we still get a lot of rabbits.
You said that you’ve had famous people perform here?
Karen: Dustin Hoffman spent the summer of 1962 here, and Charles Grodin,
Sandy Dennis, Jessica Tandy, and Kim Kernan also performed here. There’s
an interesting story about Jim Backus. He’s from the Cleveland area and
had family here at the time. In the late 1950s, he fell and broke his leg.
He really couldn’t work in LA, so he decided to come to Cleveland to visit
his family. His agent found out about Rabbit Run and got both Jim and his
wife Henny into a show called “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” It was perfect
because the lead male in the show was actually a man with a broken leg.
What is your focus today?
Brint Learned, executive director, Rabbit Run Community Arts Association
and Rabbit Run Theater: About 10 years ago, the Arts Association and
Rabbit Run Theater merged and became Rabbit Run Community Arts
Association. Year-round, we offer classes in dance, vocal and instrumental
music, the visual arts, and drama.
From June to August, we offer community theater. We do five shows in three
What makes Rabbit Run Theater unique?
Brint: The charm is the fact that the theater truly is a barn. There
really is no other experience like it. When you’re out here on a summer
night watching a show, the barn doors are open, there are twinkle lights
in the trees, and you can feel the breezes coming off of the lake. It’s an
intimate setting with 275 seats and is really a local treasure.
What is the current season?
Karen: Right now, “Doubt A Parable” is running through June 25. Every year
we do a young adult program, which will be “Urinetown” this year. It runs
July 1 to 9. That will be followed by “Chicago”, July 15 to 31, and “Lend
Me a Tenor,” August 12 to 28.
You said that you are doing something different next year?
Brint: We constantly look for new challenges. So we are doing an entire
season built around the works of Charles Dickens. We’re opening the season
with a one-man piece, “Dickens of a Summer.” That will be followed by
“Oliver” and “The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby,” which is an
eight-hour play that will be performed over two nights. You can see it on
a Friday and Saturday night, two Fridays in a row, or straight through on
a Sunday afternoon and evening. The final show will be “The Mystery of
Edwin Drood,” which is an interesting production. When Dickens was writing
it, he passed away. So every night, the audience votes on the ending.
There’s a lot of audience participation.
You said that you have a picnic area?
Brint: We have picnic tables and tables with chairs. People can bring a
bottle of wine and a picnic basket and enjoy the beautiful grounds prior
to the show. There are also great restaurants in Madison Village, which is
a short drive away.
How much are tickets?
Karen: Tickets are $19 for adults and $17 for those 60+ and students.
There are also group and season packages.
Route 2 to Route 20 to McMackin Road in Madison.