The Cherry County Playhouse was founded in 1955 in Traverse City, Michigan, by radio actress Ruth Bailey. It was one of Michigan’s first professional theaters. It was a star system Equity summer stock theater. The first production was “Tonight or Never,” starring Ilona Massey. Traverse City was selected as it had become one of the largest summer resort areas in the U.S. Performances were staged initially in a red and white striped tent and showcased the talents of Hollywood stars.
After ten years, the Playhouse moved into the air-conditioned Dome of the Park Palace Hotel. In 1976, Miss Bailey sold the theater to comedian Pat Paulsen and Neil Rosen, a successful Lose Angeles television writer and producer. Paulsen later appeared in over 25 productions of the Playhouse.
In 1991, the Playhouse moved to the historic Fauenthal Center in Muskegon, Michigan. There, the Playhouse can now produce large-scale musicals and plays in the 1,750 seat Frauenthal, known for its outstanding acoustics. During its history, The Playhouse has been home to several world premieres. It has a full-time staff. The Playhouse also has an active apprentice programs, which provide practical experience on stage and backstage for young people interested in theatrical careers.