Boston’s Colonial Theatre Will Remain A Theatre
A new chapter for Boston’s historic Colonial Theatre is beginning this week. That new beginning comes following several dark, unpromising months where the venue’s fate remained uncertain following plans that Emerson College, a well-known and respected educational institution and performing arts college, announced would turn the space into a student center. The world reacted and now the story is changing. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the exciting news that Emerson College has reversed its decision and is currently seeking to keep The historic Colonial Theatre a playhouse!
Emerson College announced today it no longer has plans to turn the historic Colonial Theatre in Boston into a student dining hall. The news, which came via email from college president Lee Pelton, announced instead that Emerson has planned to restore and renovate several nearby properties and create a new, much-needed, dining hall space from those locations. The new dining space will be an 18,000-square foot student center spread through 122-124 Boylston St. and 19 Boylston Pl (Pictured Above Right) that will be completed before Fall 2017. The new student center will also potentially house a small rehearsal space and performance stage. The Colonial Theatre entrance can be seen on the far left side of the photo above with the gold awning.
The email goes on to explain Emerson College has created a task force that is currently evaluating and working to develop programming partnerships, lease opportunities and other arrangements in an effort to return the theatre to legit use. The task force is also seeking to identify and analyze the cost of renovations needed for The Colonial Theatre. The email noted Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and a team were working with the college not only offering support but consultation on the project. Emerson announced earlier last Fall, previous to the discovery of plans for the dining hall, that The Colonial Theatre would close in October 2015 following The Book Of Mormon playing there to undergo not only long overdue but much-needed renovations. More information on the cost of the renovation and restoration of the Colonial Theatre will be announced soon as well as hopeful plans of programming
Below is the paragraph word-for-word from the email sent to students and faculty by Emerson College president Lee Pelton. It reads;
“The College continues to be engaged in a parallel effort that has been underway for several months to assess the Colonial Theatre programming options for its future. I appreciate and remain touched by the interest that the performing arts communities and some of our faculty demonstrated in their commitment to the Colonial. We value the theater’s history and its beauty. We have a team of people working hard on studying the options for its continued use as a theater space. “
In October 2015, The Boston Globe announced they had acquired ground plans for Boston’s Colonial Theatre showing Emerson College was planning to turn the historic theater, older than any remaining Broadway theater, into a dining hall and student center. When the news broke, the theatre world exploded and the Emerson community cried out. The Emerson Faculty voted against the plan, the former owner of the Colonial called Emerson “mindless” and even Tony Award Stephen Sondheim spoke that it would be “a crime” to destroy the theater and its history. (Click to read each of those incredible stories!) The fight to Save The Colonial launched almost immediately and has continued over the past several months as the looming decision regarding The Colonial Theatre’s fate was unknown to the public.
Luner Lowdown: From Day 1, Luner on Theatre has battled against Emerson College to save Boston’s historic Colonial Theatre. From covering the latest news as it broke to most recently launching our Stories From The Colonial Campaign (With the help of Save The Colonial), we have stood in support of this space remaining a theatrical one from the very beginning. We penned a plea, which you can read above, where we begged Emerson not only to reconsider destroying the theatre because of its history but for much more. Emerson has lived up to its teachings today in a new way by standing as an educational institution that understands what it teachers in keeping a theatre like The Colonial as opposed to destroying it.
Luner on Theatre is thrilled to bring you the news that Emerson College plans to keep Boston’s historic Colonial Theatre a theatre. However, we don’t plan to end our coverage on the topic any time soon! We’re looking forward to keeping you updated as new news about the theatre is made public as well as working to suggest and create ideas of how this space can not only be used best for Emerson and Boston but the entire theatre world. Stay tuned for more coverage on Boston’s Colonial Theatre right here on Luner on Theatre where you always have and always will find it. Thank You Emerson For Thinking Twice About The Colonial Theatre.
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