Philadelphia Theatre Co. Kicks Off Fund Drive for New Venue; Suzanne Roberts Theater to Open in 2007

News   Philadelphia Theatre Co. Kicks Off Fund Drive for New Venue; Suzanne Roberts Theater to Open in 2007
Philadelphia Theatre Company announced April 28 that the name of its new home on the Avenue of the Arts will be the Suzanne Roberts Theater in honor of actress, playwright and director Suzanne Roberts.

The new theatre space, located at the corner of Broad and Lombard Streets on the Avenue of the Arts, will feature a dramatic glass façade, a 365-seat traditional proscenium auditorium, and a studio space. The building is expected to be completed by fall 2007. PTC's mission is to explore contemporary works, and the company often stages world premieres and Philly premieres of plays.

Adrift in Macao, a world premiere musical with book and lyrics by Christopher Durang and music by Peter Melnick, will be presented in the company's 2005-06 season, the company announced. The musical "uses farce, burlesque and wonderfully droll wit to spin the tale of five quirky characters stranded in a Casablanca-like place in the Orient during the Eisenhower era."

"We are very grateful for the generous gift from Ralph and Suzanne Roberts, which, with a challenge grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other donors, leads PTC to launch a groundbreaking capital campaign to raise $27.25 million in support of the state-of-the-art theatre, and endowment for its continued operation, educational programming and bridge funds," said E. Gerald Riesenbach, president of the board of directors of Philadelphia Theatre Company. "Owning and operating our own theatre is imperative for our long-term vitality and viability, and will allow us to continue and expand our award-winning tradition of artistic excellence."

Sara Garonzik, producing artistic director of the Philadelphia Theatre Company, said in a statement, "At last, we at Philadelphia Theatre Company step into our future with an inspiring new theater space to make our most imaginative theatrical visions come true! The Suzanne Roberts Theater is a symbol of new growth, and stands as eloquent testimony to Suzanne's artistic vision and to the vital role she has played in enabling the Philadelphia Theatre Company and the community we serve to embark on a bold new future with confidence."

According to PTC, "For more than 40 years, Suzanne Roberts has devoted much of her energy and talent to the Philadelphia theatre community. An actress by training, Suzanne's extensive experience on the stage has served as a springboard for countless examples of meaningful public service beginning with World War II when she was called on by the U.S. Treasury and the International Red Cross to act in dramas that inspired the purchase of thousands of dollars in war bonds and the signing up of hundreds of donors to give blood. After World War II, Suzanne's career was distinguished by national appearances in plays discouraging racism and alcoholism, including Lady on the Rocks, a play about alcoholism which was performed in factories, board rooms, medical schools and AA groups…" Seeing a need for television programming for the over-45 population, Roberts created the Emmy Award-winning program, "Seeking Solutions with Suzanne."

A major focus of Roberts' life has also been using theatre to improve the lives of young people, which she has done through the Suzanne Roberts Cultural Development Fund.

"I am very honored to have my name on the new home of the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The company represents the high artistic standards I have spent my life in the theatre pursuing," said Suzanne Roberts, in a statement.

Philadelphia Theatre Company celebrates "the best in new American theatre," according to the troupe. "As it enters its 30th anniversary year, PTC is proud to be known as an innovator, a risk taker and an educator. PTC has put the spotlight on established and emerging American playwrights, and emphasized the rich tradition, unique perspective and cultural diversity of the American experience. Ever mindful of its responsibility to provide a necessary forum and nurturing environment for the fresh creative voices that will keep American theatre vital, PTC has introduced many award-winning premieres to audiences in Philadelphia and beyond, including three-time Tony Award-winning Master Class by Terrence McNally; Bruce Graham's According to Goldman; Daniel Stern's comedy Barbra's Wedding; John Henry Redwood's No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs; J.T. Roger's White People; David Ives' Lives of the Saints; Bunny Bunny by Alan Zweibel; and A Picasso by Jeffrey Hatcher.

Since 1995, PTC has received 83 nominations and 24 awards from Philadelphia's Barrymore Awards, most recently for The Last Five Years and A Picasso.

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