Michigan's Purple Rose Theatre Owns Its Home Outright

News   Michigan's Purple Rose Theatre Owns Its Home Outright
The Purple Rose Theatre Company, perhaps the greatest success story in the history of Michigan resident theatre, announced that its mortgage is paid in full.

The not-for-profit Chelsea, MI, theatre company founded by local actor, playwright and film star Jeff Daniels met its goal of $2.5 million in a capital campaign launched in 1999.

To celebrate, PRTC board president and Domino's Pizza CEO, David Brandon and his wife, trustee Jan Brandon, hosted a "Burn the Mortgage" party at their home on March 30 in honor of the Purple Rose Capital Campaign donors.

Students from Chelsea High School and Ann Arbor's Community High School provided musical entertainment. Hors d'oeuvres and pale purple champagne were served to toast the occasion.

In 1990, the building was purchased by Jeff Daniels and donated to The Purple Rose Theatre Company.  The theatre was designed after the Circle Repertory Theatre in New York and named The Garage Theatre because, as Jeff Daniels said, "they shoe-horned a theatre into a garage."

The venue — previously housing a gas station, bus garage, pizza parlor and even a fresh vegetables stand — was renovated in 1999, almost 10 years into PRTC's run as an Equity theatre devoted to Midwestern voices, area premieres and world premieres (by playwrights including Lanford Wilson and Jeff Daniels himself). The building was closed for 18 months while construction for new office, lobby and stage space was completed.  The doors were opened again in January 2001.

The interior has "1930s décor with a marbled glass chandelier in the lobby, art deco doors and ticket booth, and a Pewabic Pottery tile with the Purple Rose logo over the entrance," according to PRTC. "Donors' names are projected onto the west wall of the lobby.  The theatre has 168 seats, lending a sense of intimacy between the audience and the stage actors."

Since 1998, The Purple Rose has been nominated three times for the American Theatre Critics Best New Play Award.  This award is national in scope, honoring the best new plays outside of New York City."

"We are pleased to have our mortgage paid off in just 4-1/2 years, and we are grateful to all of our donors who contributed to the capital campaign," said Judy Gallagher, PRTC development director, in a statement. "We're getting closer to ensuring that the Purple Rose is a permanent fixture in Michigan."

The theatre's name was inspired by "The Purple Rose of Cairo," the Woody Allen film in which Daniels appeared.

The theatre is current offering the Steve Martin-Carl Sternheim comedy, The Underpants (through June 5) and follows it with the world premiere comedy, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel, by best-selling author Mitch Albom ("Tuesdays With Morrie"), June 24-Aug. 28.

Visit www.purplerosetheatre.org.

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