CINCINNATI – Artistic Director Blake Robison revealed late yesterday new developments in Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s capital building project to replace the current Marx Theatre with a brand-new mainstage theatre complex. The plan was first announced in February 2017. During a meeting with civic leaders at the Queen City Club, an updated plan for the proposed mainstage theatre complex was outlined, and it will allow performances to continue on-site during construction. The new mainstage theatre complex will cost $39.5 million.
Initially, the Playhouse anticipated that performances would have to take place off-site in order to build the new mainstage on the site of the Marx Theatre. The new approach created with project partners BHDP Architecture, Messer Construction and TriVersity Construction shifts the new theatre’s footprint to the north, allowing performances to continue in the Eden Park location during construction.
“This is a huge positive for our patrons,” said Robison. “Not only will they be able to enjoy productions in our familiar location, but also they’ll witness the creation of the new mainstage as it’s being built.”
The Playhouse, its Board of Trustees, the Cincinnati Park Board and the design and construction partners are working to understand and address the implications of this shift in strategy. The construction timetable and building project design are not final, but the current projected opening date will fall in late 2021. The Playhouse anticipates announcing the finalized construction timetable, projected opening date and finished project designs later this year.
“As you can imagine, there are a lot of moving parts,” said Robison. “We are going to take our time and do this thing right. Our brilliant design and construction team is dedicated to fully analyzing the plan. We all feel strongly that its huge positives outweigh a slightly longer wait for the final project design and our new mainstage.”
Fundraising for the capital campaign is on track. “With three leadership gifts and the committed support of 100 percent of our Board, we are well on our way,” said Woody Taft, Campaign Chairman. “We’ve raised $12.9 million, which includes $9.3 million toward the cost of the new building and an additional $3.6 million for endowment.”
In 2017, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park announced a capital campaign to replace the current Marx Theatre with a brand-new mainstage theatre complex. The building project will feature a new, and even more intimate, mainstage theatre with support facilities including new dressing rooms, rehearsal rooms, green room, costume shop and backstage areas. The new theatre will enhance audience experience with better comfort, sightlines, acoustics and entry/exit. It will expand what can be done on stage with state-of-the-art theatre technology.
No major improvements have been made to the Marx Theatre since its construction nearly 50 years ago in 1968. It is the oldest unrenovated mainstage facility at any regional theatre in the country. The Playhouse’s last capital campaign was from 1994 to 1996 and culminated in a renovation of the public and production support areas in 1997, but did not include any significant improvements to the two theatres.
“We view this as a civic project that will bring benefits to the whole region,” Taft said. “The Playhouse already provides our city with significant economic impact and national recognition that helps bring people to live and work here. The new, state-of-the-art mainstage will build on the Playhouse’s contributions and success.”
Winner of two Tony awards, the Playhouse is the region’s preeminent professional theatre with unequaled access to the nation’s finest actors, directors and designers.
“The new theatre complex positions the Playhouse for the future,” explained Robison. “It will enhance our patrons’ experience and give our artists the modern technologies they need to produce top-notch theatre here in Cincinnati for generations to come.”
The Playhouse is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Playhouse with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Playhouse also receives funding from the Shubert Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.