The 297-seat space, located at 2037 14th Street, will be renamed The 14th Street Theatre, and will officially reopen on May 5 with the Northeast Ohio premiere of the musical comedy, Menopause The Musical (previews began April 16).
The Foundation also operates the Allen, Ohio, State, Palace and Hanna Theatres, plus Kennedy's performance space underneath the Ohio, all of which comprise Playhouse Square Center, the largest performing arts complex outside of New York City.
Playhouse Square Foundation has taken over the role of sole programmer from Second City Theatricals, which from May 2002 to January 2004, presented its own brand of improvisational comedy in the 14th Street venue.
Although the Foundation was a co-producer in The Second City project, the Toronto-based organization directly oversaw operations and made the decisions about what appeared on onstage. The Foundation has taken on full creative and operational license, much as it did in 2000 with the Hanna Theatre. Since that time, the Hanna has hosted a string of "sit-down" (non-touring) comedies, including the wildly successful Tony 'n Tina's Wedding, which played 800 performances over two and-a-half years, becoming Northeast Ohio's longest running stage production.
"Like the Hanna, the 14th Street Theatre gives us the opportunity to consider additional long-running shows or smaller concert-type attractions," said Gina Vernaci, Playhouse Square Foundation's director of programming. "Our goal is to have activity at Playhouse Square Center on an on-going basis. Smaller venues lend themselves to that concept." *
The 14th Street Theatre, which seats 297, is the most intimate of the six theatres on Playhouse Square. The space was originally built in 1921 as part of the Hanna Building, and features an eclectic mix of classic Italian Renaissance architecture with contemporary accents. Original remaining elements include a coffered Roman ceiling, bronze trimming, and 11-foot decorative columns. In 2001, DAS Construction built a spacious new lobby. Designed by former GSI Architect Joseph R. Hanna in collaboration with local artists Michael Castellana and the Glass Bubble Project, the lobby has a distinctly urban feel, with one metal-paneled wall opposite one of painted earth colors, a cement floor, and wrought-iron light fixtures.
The lounge is equipped with a new, 25-foot oak wood bar, ideal for people to meet friends and mingle before or after the performance. Historical photos of Playhouse Square, enlarged, backlit, and framed in metal, form the backdrop of the bar.
The first production in the newly christened 14th Street Theatre will be Menopause the Musical, the Off Broadway and regional hit that has struck a chord with women of all ages.
The musical parody is a celebration of women undergoing "The Change"; and features 26 classic baby boomer songs, from "Puff, My God I'm Draggin'" to the disco favorite "Stayin' Awake, Stayin' Awake."
Previews began April 16, and the official press opening is May 5.
For more information, visit www.playhousesquare.com.