A successful community theater group was operating in northwest Detroit in 1969. It produced its plays at a clubhouse in North Rosedale Park and was known as the Park Players. At the time, it had one bad feature; membership was closed to anyone who didn't live in North Rosedale. So, the founders of Rosedale Community Players (RCP) decided to form their own theater group.

The mission of RCP is to enrich the community, provide quality entertainment, and encourage open and active participation through all phases of the theatrical arts. Although membership was not restricted to residents of South Rosedale, most of the first members of RCP did live in South Rosedale, an area bounded by Grand River on the north, Southfield Rd. on the east, Lyndon on the south, and Evergreen/Westwood on the west. Beginning in 1969, RCP put on its shows in the auditorium of Edison School, a Detroit public school on Grand River just east of Southfield. It was a small stage, actors were allowed limited rehearsal time in the school, and the sets had to be constructed in members' garages or basements and moved quickly in and out of Edison. The new group had great enthusiasm and thanks to sparkplug activity from people like Marylyn Moore the size of the group increased. Of course, members began looking for a theater venue of their own.

Members thought they had something when, in about 1973, they rented the second floor of a commercial building on Fenkell (Five Mile) near the corner of Auburn Ave., which came to be called "The Dump." The building had some storefronts on Fenkell, but only one business was operating; a barbershop. The downstairs behind the stores was the residence of the landlords, Mr. and Mrs. LaMontagne. They had a pool table in their apartment and occasionally invited members down for some recreation and maybe a beer or two. Normal access to the second story was via an outdoor staircase in the back, kind of like a fire escape. A major disadvantage of "The Dump" was the parking. One could squeeze maybe four or five cars on the lot, but otherwise, had to find parking spots on Fenkell or neighboring streets. There were some shows performed at "The Dump," including great workshop renditions of Blythe Spirit and Guys and Dolls, but mostly "The Dump" was used for preparation of Edison School. In 1974-5 two things happened to improve the group's potential. First, they found a very large space in old Redford at the corner of Grand River and Lahser, above what used to be two thriving dime stores, Kresge's and Woolworth's. It had a steep and long stairway from Grand River, a leaky roof and an ancient boiler that made it god-awful expensive to heat the upstairs. However, it had plenty of space permitting a theater to accommodate 200 patrons, room for storing wardrobe, a large area for storing and working on set materials and props, plenty of "johns" for men and women, a 25 foot bar and other rooms. It was named the "Upstage," and, wonder of wonders, it became RCP's home for 32 years. Stories about experiences at the Upstage, and how members eventually came to terminate the lease, would take many more pages than here allotted.

Secondly, RCP found an opportunity to do shows at Redford Theater, on Lahser around the corner from the Upstage. Four shows were performed at the Redford beginning with Strange Bedfellows in 1975 and ending with Twigs in 1976. The Redford had an enormous stage, high, wide and deep, and stagehands could fly things, like windows, in and out for one scene. The theater seated about 1400, with a large balcony section. A few times members had the thrill of playing to about half that number, 700, for a single performance! When continuing at the Upstage became no longer feasible, RCP found a temporary home from the spring of 2007 through 2009 at Bushnell Church on Southfield Road just south of Grand River. As it happened, it was sort of a return to the old Rosedale haunts, and six shows were performed there before moving on to our present venue, Peace Lutheran Church. RCP is in the midst of our thirteenth season here and in all of the years there has never been a better friend for a landlord than Peace Lutheran Church.

RCP is still ambitious for a place of their own and to that end they have set aside a special Building Fund that is getting them towards that goal. So, if you know a space that might accommodate the needs of RCP, please share that information! If you wish to contribute financially, please fill out a donation form that can be found at our concessions table. We cannot thank you enough for your continued patronage and encourage you to tell your friends about us.


The Rosedale Community Players is a proud member in good standing of CTAM (Community Theatre Association of Michigan) and AACT (American Association of Community Theatre). For more information about CTAM or AACT, click on their logos.

For information about theatre productions in the Detroit area, please visit our friends at The Detroit Area Theatre (www.detroitareatheatre.com).