Queens Theatre in the Park, which offers everything from concerts and dance events to legit plays and musicals, will rename its Main Stage Theatre in 2002 to honor outgoing Borough President Claire Shulman, who was instrumental in helping renovate the venue and supported the arts in Queens throughout her tenure.
Spring 2002 will see the official naming ceremony for "The Claire Shulman Playhouse." Before that, a fund-raising campaign will be held, with patrons able to buy (and name) plaques that will be permanently affixed to seats in the theatre. The year-round indoor venue holds 464 seats.
According to Queens Theatre in the Park spokesperson Sam Rossi, the New York State Pavilion in Queens was designed for the 1964 World's Fair and then served as a mainstage for Playwrights Horizons in the late 1970s. In the 1980s, Theatre in the Park emerged, but shady business dealings and mismanagement quashed the venue by the end of the decade. Executive director Jeffrey Rosenstock took over in 1989, using the building's studio space and another nearby space until the mainstage was renovated in 1993. Borough President Shulman "spearheaded" that renewal and is also credited with finding long-term support opportunities for the theatre and with "steadfast support for all arts and culture in Queens."
Board president Frances A. Resheske said in a statement that Q-TIP executive director Jeffrey Rosenstock once dubbed the Main Stage, "the `Theatre that Claire Shulman built' for a very good reason. ..Borough President Shulman has never wavered in her belief in the importance of arts and culture to the very fabric of a diverse community."
More than a million people have taken in shows at Queens Theatre in the Park, which is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park near Shea Stadium. According to spokesperson Rossi, the theatre will go through a $4 million renovation starting in 2003, with a new lobby and cabaret space added, as well as offices. Again, Claire Shulman is behind the renovation. Recent theatrical offerings at Q-TIP include Brighton Beach Memoirs, a co-production with Syracuse Stage and Virginia Stage Company; the Flying Karamazov Brothers in L'Universe, in its New York-area premiere; and The Jazz Singer, which Q-TIP produced. The Acting Company, which played at Q-TIP last year, will return this season with The Taming of the Shrew and Pudd'nhead Wilson.
For more information on Queens Theatre in the Park and the seat-naming campaign call (718) 760-0686.
— By David Lefkowitz