Emerson College, which owns the venue, no longer has a relationship with presenter Broadway Across America-Boston, which has booked touring plays and musicals there over the past ten years. The Boston Globe is reporting that Broadway Across America has now opted to present tours at Boston's Shubert Theatre and the Boston Opera House.
A visit by the tour of West Side Story (closing July 9) is the last major theatre event booked at the Colonial for the short term, but "going dark" doesn't mean a permanent shutdown and mothballs. Emerson is seeking other presenters to light the lights as soon as possible.
Andrew Tiedemann, Emerson's vice president for communications, told Playbill.com, "Emerson is actively seeking a new tenant. We have enjoyed having Broadway Across America as our tenant…we hope in the future they would consider a future lease."
He said that Emerson leadership is optimistic that a new tenant will be announced soon.
The opulent 1,700-seat theatre on Boylston Street hosted the pre-Broadway productions of Follies, A Little Night Music, Oklahoma!, La Cage aux Folles, Born Yesterday, Carousel, Grand Hotel and Porgy and Bess. The Colonial opened on Dec. 20, 1900, with "the heroic melodrama, Ben-Hur, featuring a cast of 350 and a chariot race using eight live horses," according to a history page on the Colonial website. Bert Fink, a spokesman for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization, shared this anecdote about the Colonial: "Away We Go! arrived at the Colonial in March '43 and it was on the theatre's fabled gilt lobby grand staircase that the cast assembled to hear a new choral version of a song going into the show that week. The song was called 'Oklahoma,' and became a show-stopper at the Colonial, and a title song by the time Oklahoma! opened at the St. James on Broadway at the end of March."