November 13, 2018

The Oakdale Theatre, Wallingford Connecticut

The original Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, Connecticut was built in the early 1950’s on a field of alfalfa sprouts.  Founder Ben Segal’s vision for the theatre followed the popular “theatre-in-the-round” architectural craze, which was spreading across the Northeast.

Oakdale Theatre Wallingford CT Enjoy CT Live

The new Oakdale Theatre is much larger than the original.

The Beginning of a Theatre (1953-1960’s)

Used primarily as a summer venue, The Oakdale Theatre’s stage hosted many musicals, from “Kiss Me Kate” to “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific”.  Throughout the 1960’s musical acts began to filter into The Oakdale Theatre.  Early performers included Henry Belfonte and Tom Jones, while groups such as Led Zeppelin, Cream and The Doors took the stage in the late 1960’s.

Original Oakdale Theatre

The original Oakdale Theatre via LedZeppelin.com

Make Way for the Crowds (1970’s)

After the booming influx of popular musical performances and their loyal crowds,  The Oakdale Theatre expanded their building.  Connecticut’s venues were limited at the time, and The Oakdale was a gathering place for culture.  The wood dome, which is now the lobby of The Oakdale, was built in 1972, and the seating was increased from 1,700 to 3,200 to suit the audiences.  Crowds of fans gathered to view musical acts such as Dolly Parton and comedians such as Don Rickles.

Dolly Parton 1970s Enjoy CT Live

Dolly Parton, 1970’s

Country Music Finds a Home (1980’s-1990’s)

As venues in Connecticut became more common, The Oakdale’s celebrity guests changed from mainstream acts to hosting popular country stars.  By making a place for country acts such as Reba McEntire, The Judds, Clint Black, Randy Travis and others, The Oakdale Theatre maintained its relevance in Connecticut’s live music and performance scene.

The New Oakdale Theatre

The Oakdale Theatre took a new shape in 1996, when it received a makeover complete with 4,600 seats and a proscenium stage!  The new venue was christened with an opening performance by the country duo Brooks and Dunn.  Since the opening on July 7th, 1996, The Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, Connecticut has hosted Sting, Tina Turner, Robin Williams, Coldplay, Jerry Seinfeld, as well as Broadway-sized performances of “Grease”, “The Producers” and “Suessical”!

Oakdale Theatre Stage Wallingford CT

The view from the Oakdale’s stage.

Check out the upcoming performances at The Oakdale here.