Bridgeport: Theater Hot Spots

Poli's New Theatre, Bridgeport, Conn. Fairfield Center, Fairfield, Conn

Nearby booming Bridgeport offered all of the outlets for a flapper to express her ideals.  

 

The Ritz Ballroom opened in 1923 in Black Rock near Ash Creek, and in 1922, impresario Sylvestre Poli opened the Poli Palace, a vaudeville house, in downtown Bridgeport. The Poli Palace was the biggest theater ever erected in Connecticut – and the largest among Bridgeport's 20-plus theaters. It also shared a building with the Majestic Theater, and both were impressive and very much in the style of the 1920s – crystal chandeliers, gilded moldings, high arching ceilings, and detailed craftsmanship.

 

Famed playwright, actress, and singer Mae West (1893-1980) flaunted the flapper style, but also intelligently played the sex symbol in her works. The public's curiosities and critiques of her controversial style made West a popular star, but also found her in and out of jail.  In 1927, West’s play "The Drag" opened at Poli's Palace in Bridgeport because it was banned from New York by the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice because it addressed the topic of homosexuality. West explained, "the city fathers begged me not to bring the show to New York because they were not equipped to handle the commotion it would cause." West was an early supporter of the women's liberation movement, and an early supporter of gay rights.