Success at anything will always comes down to this: Focus and Effort…and we control both. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
So far this is the largest seating theatre you are playing in. This is not your first time to play in this theatre either. My guess would be it was fairly early in your career as you are listed on the Oakdale’s website as having performed here, just no date given. While small, this theatre is interesting in the fact that it is a theatre that was one of the original “In the Round” stages…an approach you used on your last tour….so maybe this was the tour where you played in this theatre?
One of the tenets of this 104 Letter Campaign is that I research the theatre and the stop only on the day I write about it. I want to be excited about each theatre as I research and write about it. I make sure that I list each site with a link where I have garnered or compiled information from as well as credited where I found the interior photo image. Onwards….
Stop # 9
Date: September 26
Theatre: Toyota Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford CT
Trivia Facts/History of the Toyota Oakdale Theatre:
The 1,200-seat Oakdale Theatre opened in 1954 by original founder Ben Segal, under a tent in the middle of an alfalfa field. It was created as a “theatre-in-the-round”. It started life as a summer stock theater and the facility has grown over the years. Hosting musicals such as: Kiss me Kate, South Pacific and Oklahoma starring Broadway’s brightest stars like John Raitt, Danny Kay, James Garner and Ethel Merman.
In the 1960’s the Oakdale became a summer concert venue for musicians such as: Harry Belafonte, Paul Anka, Steve & Eydie, Tom Jones, The Who, Cream, Chicago, Led Zepplin and The Doors. All played live on a rotating stage located in the center, creating a “theatre in the round”.
In 1972, the tent was replaced with a wooden dome that accommodated 3,000 seats. The biggest entertainers of the year made Oakdale a “must play” stop on their tours. Englebert Humperdink, Dolly Parton, The Carpenters, Liberace and comedians like Don Rickles and Rich Little.
With declining theatre attendance the Oakdale then began to bring in Country and Western Stars such as The Judds, Reba McEntire, Clint Black, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson.
In the mid-1990s, the Oakdale was transformed again to become a year-round 5,000-seat performing arts center. The project changed the facility from a theater-in-the-round to an end-stage, amphitheater arrangement. Ground-breaking took place in late 1995 and the new 120,000-square-foot theater was completed in mid-summer 1996. The $20 million project included the design of a new theater, with the old “dome” becoming its lobby, a 5,000-square-foot stage house with orchestra pit and trap room, backstage support including performers and crew accommodations, a loading dock and scenery-handling area, public spaces, restrooms, and extensive indoor and outdoor concessions. It is now the largest theater in the state of Connecticut. The new theater was officially opened by country superstars Brooks & Dun.
Following its renovation larger stars came in such as: Sting, Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Robin Williams, Coldplay, JOSH GROBAN and Jerry Seinfeld. All played to sold out crowds. Broadway and Stage Shows such as Riverdance, 42nd Street, Grease, The Producers, Seussical and Movin Out became a part of the Oakdale’s performance review list.
In 1998, the Oakdale Theatre was acquired by SFX Entertainment (now Live Nation) for $12 million. It was renamed the CareerBuilder.com Oakdale Theater in the early 2000s and later, the Chevrolet Theatre in deference to corporate sponsors. However, despite such sponsorship, it remains known to patrons (and many Wallingford area locals) as simply “The Oakdale”.
Also in 1998 legendary CT promoter Jim Koplik joined the Oakdale Family. Maroon 5, John Mayer started their careers here. Britney Spears headlined her first tour here in 1999. Musicians such as Drake, The Jonas Brothers, Diana Krall, Kathy Griffin, Avenged Sevenfold and Keith Urban have all become part of the star-studded performer lineup.
The theater was briefly mentioned the Fox animated comedy series Family Guy, during the fourth season episode “Peterotica”
*PS-Dear Reader- The only favor I ask is that you follow the story, Share if you are so inclined. Know that I am following dreams as you do.