Panaro, Martello, Elder, Coon Will Help Celebrate Walnut Street's 200th Birthday Feb. 2

News   Panaro, Martello, Elder, Coon Will Help Celebrate Walnut Street's 200th Birthday Feb. 2 Walnut Street Theatre's official 200th birthday is Feb. 2, 2009, and the current producers are throwing a private, by-invitation-only party at the Philadelphia National Historic Landmark.
Hugh Panaro
Hugh Panaro Photo by Ben Strothmann

Founded in 1809, the Walnut is the oldest theatre in America and the oldest continually operating theatre in the English-speaking world. For the past 26 years the theatre has been a self-producing non-profit, and boasts the largest subscription audience in the United States — 57,000 subscribers annually.

The Walnut Street Theatre is hosting a starry party to celebrate the theatre's bicentennial. The evening will begin at the Walnut, with performances "highlighting some of the great moments in recent Walnut history, while paying tribute to 200 continuous years of theatre at the corner of 9th and Walnut."

Beginning at 7 PM Feb. 2, over 50 performers will be presenting over two-dozen pieces from past Walnut shows. According to WST, "Philadelphia's brightest stars join with a number of Broadway luminaries to honor this living legend in the history of the American theatre."

The performers will include New York City-based performers Mark Jacoby, Hugh Panaro, Cary Michele Miller, Cara Cooper, David Elder, Christina DeCicco, Ben Lipitz, Paul Schoeffler and Josh Young, and Philly performers Jeffrey Coon, Joilet Harris, Ben Dibble, Mary Martello and Denise Whelan, among others.

A reception will be held in the Ballroom at the Benjamin Franklin House (9th Street between Sansom and Chestnut) immediately following. For more information on the Walnut Street Theatre and its history, visit www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org.

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WST's president and producing artistic director is Bernard Havard; managing director is Mark D. Sylvester.

A Streetcar Named Desire is on WST's mainstage to March 1. WST's intimate Independence Studio on 3 houses the world premiere of Bill Van Horn's O Captain, My Captain: Whitman's Lincoln to Feb. 6.

The "Images of America" book series, which publishes historic photos and photo essays of regional places and events, recently released a softcover edition devoted to the history of Walnut Street Theatre.

Walnut Street Theatre circa 1885
Walnut Street Theatre circa 1885 Photo by courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division
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