Carousel Theatre

Carousel Theatre

Since the Carousel Theatre in Framingham, Massachusetts, was a theatre in the round, it provided audiences with a unique opportunity to see performers from every angle. And during its roughly 10-year existence, the venue hosted a smorgasbord of top talent under its tent, from Broadway and film stars to jazz greats and future rock legends.

Opened in 1958 on Old Connecticut Path, the Carousel held between 2,500 and 3,000 people, was owned by Frank Connelly and Gerald Roberts and was reportedly the largest theatrical tent in the United States at the time. The first-ever performance was the musical New Girl in Town in June 1958. In 1960, the musical theater season schedule featured Andy Devine and Gogi Grant in Showboat, Tony Perkins in Damn Yankees, Ginger Rogers in Annie Get Your Gun and Howard Keel in South Pacific. In addition to such mainstream offerings, the theatre also hosted occasional burlesque troupes.


Each summer, the Carousel presented about nine musicals featuring “name” stars over a 15-week period. The Broadway and Hollywood celebrities were supported by a resident chorus and orchestra. On occasional Sundays, the venue hosted shows by renowned jazz vocalists and musicians including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, George Shearing, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong.

By the late ‘60s, as rock ‘n’ roll came to dominate popular culture, the venue expanded its offerings to attract younger audiences, presenting Jimi Hendrix in 1968 and Led Zeppelin in 1969. Among the other acts who appeared at the Carousel during those years were Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, The Four Tops, The Temptations, The Turtles, Orpheus, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Iron Butterfly, Simon & Garfunkel, Ethel Merman, Johnny Mathis, David Ruffin, Johnny Winter, Tom Jones, Ray Charles, The Lovin’ Spoonful, Ten Years After, The Association, Carol Lawrence, Andy Williams, The Osmonds, Chicago, Liberace, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Peter, Paul and Mary and Tiny Tim. Comedians including Danny Kay, Jack Benny, Phillis Diller, Jerry Lewis and Joan Rivers also headlined over the years.

The Carousel Theater closed in1969 and was destroyed by fire shortly thereafter. Today, there are office buildings on the property , but nevertheless pays tribute to its history — the Carousel Office Park at 500 Old Connecticut Path.

(by L.D. Glover)

Published On: October 7, 2020