Cirque Playhouse (in Seattle) begins 31 years of live performances on January 12, 1950.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 8/07/1999
  • Essay 1609

On January 12, 1950, First Central Staging, under the direction of founder Gene Keene, presents "Springtime for Harry" at Broadway Hall, located on Capitol Hill at Broadway and Madison streets. The hall is remodeled with volunteer labor, and opening night is almost cancelled because of an unpaid painting bill. Soon to be renamed the Cirque (French for circus), the company will stage live musicals and comedies almost continuously until 1981 and it will become "the oldest and longest running professional theater in Seattle."

The Cirque specialized in well-known productions starring "what charitably could be called veteran actors," that is, actors "between engagements" (The Seattle Times).

In 1952, the company moved to 3406 East Union Street in the Central Area and gave performances there for the next 17 years. The Cirque Theater ceased productions at the Central Area address on February 16, 1969, because of declining attendance. From 1971 to 1981, the Cirque operated as a dinner theater.


Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 6, 1982, p. E-1; Carole Beers, "Gene Keene and The Cirque," The Seattle Times Sunday Magazine, January 12, 1975, pp. 9-10; The Seattle Times, March 16, 1982, p. B-1; Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 266.

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