History Meets History

Antrim Playhouse at the Manse Barn

History, Community, Tradition… Because art requires creation through participation, all art must have a community in order to create. Theater has always been an influential factor in communities. As people are exposed to the arts, creativity flourishes, academics improve, and means of self-expression are developed. Supporting your community theater is supporting all these things, and contributing to a proven catalyst for economic development, community engagement and social enrichment.

This has long been the understanding of The Antrim Players, a pride and joy of Rockland County. Our not-for- profit community theater has been producing acclaimed plays and musicals every year since 1936. Through the years, Antrim has been the starting rung for many talented people who have gone on to professional theater, television, and big screen success. Our stage has been graced by Helen Hayes, Fred Gwynne, Henny Youngman, Burl Ives, Tyne Daly, Hugh McPhillips, Christine Andreas, Rene Auberjonais, Milton Berle, and many others.

The Antrim Players is looking forward to making the Manse Barn in the historic district of Tappan its new home, bringing theater opportunities to Orangetown and beyond. For over three centuries, the hamlet of Tappan has offered a pleasing mix of history and small-town scenery.

The auditorium and stage at the Manse Barn have their own unique history as an entertainment venue. The Manse Barn served as one of four USO clubs for over 1 million soldiers departing from Camp Shanks in Orangeburg during WW2. It offered many opportunities for art, dance, recreation, and entertainment. Frank Sinatra, the Andrew Sisters, Vaudeville, Broadway, and Hollywood stars jumped at the chance to entertain outgoing troops at Camp Shanks. Guides offered historical walking tours of the neighborhood where George Washington had briefly camped with the Continental Army in 1780. In more recent years, various adult and children’s theater groups have produced shows on the barn’s stage. Special traditions continue at the Manse, including the annual tree lighting, South Orangetown Day and summer movies on the lawn.

It is Antrim’s vision to present multiple yearly main stage productions, consisting of both plays and musicals, as well as offering writing and acting workshops, scene studies and special guest performances. Additionally, a move to this area brings with it opportunities to explore collaborations with community organizations and local leaders to explore the rich history of Tappan through community celebrations, reenactments, guided (costumed) walking tours and period piece productions.

Antrim Playhouse’s Board of Directors

James A. Guarasci

President of this historic 85-year community theatre. Instrumental in keeping up all operations and a key player in theatre transfer and relocation to a new home in another historic Rockland County town. Strong decision-maker and team leader with extensive experience in the hospitality industry at prominent “landmark” properties. College Professor currently teaching Catering, Special Event Planning, Restaurant and Beverage Management, Hudson Valley Tourism, Capstone and Hospitality. Specializing in creating real world experience and scenarios throughout my extensive theatre background and use of my 50 years of industry experience.

Doreen DiBenedetto

Doreen DiBenedetto has been active with Antrim since 1998. Presently she is the Treasurer but has also worn many other hats such as a performer, board member, producer and stage manager. She has managed the daily operation of the theater, assisted with all aspects of the sale of the theater in Suffern, NY and the relocation and renovation of the new theater in Tappan, NY. She also has been a board member of two other community theaters in the area. Doreen has performed in over fifty productions in New York and New Jersey. She is the Office Manager/Bookkeeper for a New York City law firm. Doreen is also a member of her Church’s choir. Doreen lives in Suffern with her husband. She has two children and two beautiful granddaughters.

Dana Duff

Dana Duff is a Performer, Director, Writer, Educator (Tarrytown School District), House Manager (Penguin Rep), Production Assistant (Phoenix Arts Festival) and Event Coordinator (Rockland County Pride Center & CANDLE). Dana resides in Nyack and is very active in the theater community in Rockland. She has been a member of The Antrim Playhouse since 2019. Dana was elected as a board member in 2019, and became Board Secretary in 2020. She has performed in over 100 professional and community productions throughout NJ, NY & NYC. She is proactive in serving her community and creating a positive workspace. She is an Acting Coach for Music For Life, a music therapy group that serves children, teens & adults with all skills, abilities & challenges. Dana has been a vital part of the planning and execution of what will be the new Antrim Theater. She is so excited to bring her passion for collaboration and her ability to engage and empower youth and adults to this new beautiful space.

Catherine Brunelle

Catherine Brunelle has been involved with Antrim since 2011 as a board member, performer, costume designer, producer, stage manager and production assistant. She also served as the president of another community theater in Suffern, New York. Catherine also works at the Penguin Theater as Costumer Designer/Wardrobe and has appeared in several cable television shows and independent films. She works both as an independent consultant for a major travel company, as well as a member of the events division for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

THEATER | NOV. 14, 2018

Did you know you wanted to follow your parents into acting?

TYNE DALY: I was totally glamorized by their life and their work. We were watching them work a lot as little kids, on the stage and then in the television studios. From about 8 or so, I was completely certain and quite boringly focused. I couldn’t wait to get out of their house and to the Antrim Playhouse.