Admin Office: (315) 255-1305
Box Office: (315) 255-1785 / 1-800-457-8897
17 William Street, Suite 304
Auburn, NY 13021
Click here to download the 2012 Festival General Information Brochure.
The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse was originally founded as the Auburn Children’s Theatre in 1958 by Susan Riford and members of the Auburn Service League. Initially, the Theatre provided weekend dramatic classes for local youths. In 1961, an in-school program was added which grew into a state-wide touring children's theatre by 1965. Nine years later, in 1974, the Youth Theatre Program was fully professionalized.
In 1970, Mrs. Riford received permission from the Cayuga County Legislature to convert the then empty carousel building in Emerson Park into a theatre. The classic merry-go-round which had delighted area children for so many years had been sold earlier that year to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania. Dozens of eager volunteers worked tirelessly to clean up and paint the building. A stage was added on the east side of the building and in the summer of 1971 the first Merry-Go-Round Playhouse season came to pass. It was a decidedly home grown effort, but nevertheless a success. By 1975 the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse became a professional summer stock theatre with many of the cast and artistic staff traveling from Manhattan for the season.
In the fall of 1981, Mrs. Riford retired and the baton was passed to Ed Sayles, who has been Producing Director ever since. Under Ed’s direction the Playhouse has become nationally recognized for the excellent quality of both its musical and youth theatre. Merry-Go-Round Playhouse attendance has grown from 9,000 in 1982 to over 60,000 annually. The Youth Theatre has become one the largest in the U.S., performing for over 125,000 students each year. During that time the budget for the whole organization grew from $180,000 to over $5 million.
In 2004 a three million dollar renovation was completed at the Playhouse. The renovation included an expansion of seating capacity from 365 to 501, the addition of a full fly system, orchestra pit and almost doubling the stage size. That year the Playhouse also concluded formal agreements with Actors Equity Association, the American Federation of Musicians and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. In 2012 the Playhouse launched the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, adding two additional performing spaces in downtown Auburn. In 2014 a third downtown space, the Schwartz Family Performing Arts Center, comes on line. The new theatre will seat 300 and be located in the heart of Auburn’s Creative Corridor.
Enjoy the Festival in the perfect setting of the Finger Lakes. Already home to a thriving theatrical community, the region boasts nationally-known wineries, luxury spas, crystal blue lakes, great restaurants, and historical treasures.
Altogether, the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival will offer you the best of everything that contemporary musical theatre has to offer...whether On, Off, or Beyond Broadway.
So start planning your trip now. Your seats are waiting.
Click here to view a video that will provide you with an introduction to Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival