Six years in the making (the planning and ongoing money-gathering and actual renovating), the Everyman Theatre’s hipper new home in the 300 block of West Fayette Street in the Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District kicks off a week of opening celebrations January 14th with a ribbon-cutting ceremony starring Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other local biggies. First show on the slate: the Baltimore premiere of August: Osage County by Tracy Letts, the 2008 Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play plugged by The New York Times as “the most exciting new American play in years.” Founder and Everyman Artistic Director Vincent Lancisi directs. (Show runs 1/16-2/17.)
So what physical changes can we expect as the well-respected actor’s actors’ stage finally relocates from 1727 N. Charles?
Seventeen million dollars raised for its redo (and still counting), the new space seats 250 rather than 175. “This will preserve an intimate experience while increasing Everyman’s capacity,” notes the website. Additionally: “The theatre will consolidate its operations. For the first time, there will be adequate room for on-site costume storage, set building, classrooms and offices. Rehearsals and education programs will now take place in-house, eliminating the need to spend money on rent.” Better efficiency means more plays will run per season. Plus, improved environmental practices and compliance with LEED Silver standards, says the site. Reserved parking for subscribers. And assisted listening devices. “Everyman will [also] expand its vibrant education programs that reach 2,000 students annually, including the lauded high school matinee program that is offered free of charge to schools and students,” says site. See a detailed photo gallery at The Washington Post.
As we know, Baltimore’s Westside features a lively, thriving arts community with the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, the H & H Building and the Hippodrome at its heart, peppered by local businesses. The University of Maryland Med School campus anchors another optimistic layer. A 2010 census reported that Downtown’s Westside and City Center were the fastest-growing residential neighborhoods in Baltimore in the last decade. Everyman’s bound to draw even more dramatic interest to the area.
In October, Everyman received the prestigious Downtown Baltimore Award from the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore “for its significant contributions to the Downtown Community.”
Capital donors include Bank of America Development Corporation and the Harold A. Dawson Trust who donated the former Town Theatre (Everyman paid $1 for it), which opened in 1910 as the Empire, and is still engraved with its original “E” (now fitting for Everyman, which, Lancisi acknowledged to Post, seems a meant-to-be sign). Funding sources are numerous, both public and private. Key support also came from the Abell Foundation, the Blaustein Philanthropic Group and the France-Merrick Foundation.
Opening weekend to stage extra fanfare. On Saturday, January 19, a black-tie grand opening gala honoring key sponsors features a reception, seated dinner and play performance, followed by a VIP cast party. The January 20th brunch, performance and toast with the cast is open to the non-VIP public. Tickets online.
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