Former Colonial Theatre Owner Calls Emerson Administration “Mindless”
We’re headed back to Boston today as we continue our coverage on Emerson College and it’s plan to destroy the historic Colonial Theatre continues. While the Boston theatre community, Tony Award winning producers and artists as well as students and faculty continue to speak out against the plan, no new agenda or blue prints for the historic playhouse have come forward. While many worry about the theater’s future, more leaders continue to speak up and against the current plans. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the news that the former owner of Boston’s Colonial Theatre has spoken regarding the building’s potential future!
While the theatre community continues to rally for one of the oldest operating theaters in the country, Boston’s Colonial Theatre, the building’s former owner has finally spoken giving his opinion on Emerson’s current plan to turn the theater into a dining hall. The following statement was published in The Boston Globe, who actually broke the news of Emerson’s plan to renovate and destroy the space before plans were meant to go public. The breaking news started a wildfire of concern not only for the building’s future but for Emerson, a “so-called educational institution”.
“As A former owner of the Colonial Theatre, during the 1990s, and a former board member of and donor to Emerson College, I am appalled at the very thought of a plan to desecrate this world-famous landmark. While I owned the theater and Jon Platt managed it under a lease, he oversaw the expenditure of millions of dollars to renovate and restore the Colonial to its present beauty. I’m sure he is as heartbroken as I am at the irresponsible action of what seems to be a mindless administration. When I was on the Emerson board, nothing of this magnitude could have been considered without serious discussions with faculty, alumni, and the student body. The last time such a foolhardy act was reversed was the ill-fated attempt to move the school from Boston to Lawrence. The president at that time, Allen Koenig, stepped down shortly thereafter. “
– Martin S. Berman
Berman’s words speak to many, if not all, who are rallying against Emerson College’s administration and President Lee Pelton who are spearheading the plan to renovate and destroy the historic space. Just hours after the plans became public knowledge, a petition, which now holds over 7,000 signatures, surfaced sweeping the internet and gaining the attention of theatre producers, the President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization and Tony Award winner Stephen Sondheim (Pictured Above Right) himself. Sondheim called the plan “a crime” speaking to not only the beauty of the theatre but it’s significance in theatre history as well.
Further disapproval came as the faculty of Emerson College overwhelmingly voted in a meeting for the administration to reconsider options for the now shuttered theatre. The faculty results were presented at a Emerson College board meeting held during the final week of October. The Vice President of Communications for the college released a statement mentioning the board appreciates the faculty’s opinion and would consider it in their “thoughtful and deliberate process” while deciding the fate of the Colonial. However, with no new plans or even statements from the board regarding the theater’s future, many are worried the public, faculty and theatre community’s concerns are not being addressed yet alone considered. Emerson, if you are truly listening to us, prove it. Show us you are loyal to the theatre, the performing arts and performance spaces as a whole with some plans that keep the Colonial a theater as it is intended to be.
Luner on Theatre will continue to keep you updated on the Colonial Theatre in Boston and it’s fate as we have since this story broke. We have consistently repeated again and again how important it is that the theater remain a performance space and go untouched not only for the historic value it holds but for the future of the performing arts at Emerson College and in Boston. We plan to further that statement as we continue to publish news and several original articles, you can expect this later month, regarding this very issue. Read our original statement to Emerson College here. Stay tuned Luner on Theatre for more updates on our fight to save Boston’s Colonial Theatre. And of course, check out the rest of Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!