Triangle Club

Courtesy of Princeton University Archives
Courtesy of Princeton University Archives

With roots reaching back to 1883 and the Princeton College Dramatic Association, Triangle Club (1893) is one of Princeton's longest-standing organizations and America's oldest touring college musical-comedy theater group. The Triangle Show is written, produced and acted entirely by students, assisted by a professional support staff.

The club has presented original musical comedies since the late 19th century, when it began collaborations with the Glee Club, the orchestra and the Banjo and Mandolin Club. Over the decades, the club has produced both "book" shows (with a single story line), and revues (a series of skits).

In both formats the Triangle Show has long had a tradition of male actors playing female roles. The first female student in a Triangle Show was Sue Jean Lee '70, who starred in the 1968-69 production of "A Different Kick." With the advent of undergraduate coeducation in 1969, the troupe's composition reached a balance of males and females, but the tradition of a rousing all-male kickline, which dates back at least to the 1907 production of "The Mummy Monarch," continues as a signature of every performance.

Many notable writers authored scripts for Triangle Club Shows while they were Princeton students. To name just a few, these include F. Scott Fitzgerald, Class of 1917; Clark Gesner '60 ("You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown") and A. Scott Berg '71 (noted biographer of Woodrow Wilson, Class of 1879).

The list of famous actors who got their start in Triangle Club productions is lengthy. Perhaps one of the most recognizable across generations is James "Jimmy" Stewart '32. In addition, songs from the shows have been commercially published for many years, with some becoming popular hits, such as "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)."

Except for 1943-45 during World War II, Triangle Club has produced at least one major show a year. Since 1901, the club has toured nationally and even internationally. Its campus productions take place in McCarter Theatre, which was completed in 1930 to house the Triangle Club, replacing the modest Casino, destroyed by fire in 1924.