Saturday, April 18, 2009

Walnut Expansion?

Maybe I'll get a bigger box office someday ;-)

Walnut Street Theatre Continues Its 200th Birthday Party

by KYW's Karin Phillips

A grand gala this Saturday night highlights the ongoing celebration this year for the bicentennial birthday of the Walnut Street Theatre.

Communications manager Tom Miller says the correct way to describe the 200-year-old theatre, at 9th and Walnut Streets in center city, is as the "oldest continually operating theatre in the English-speaking world." It's like walking through a museum.
According to Miller, the Walnut Street Theatre has the largest subscription audience in the nation -- not bad for a place that started out as a horse circus. Just about every American actor worth his salt has played The Walnut, as you can see in the dozens of playbills, posters, and headshots that decorate the lobbies.

Bernard Havard (top photo) is the theatre's president and producing artistic director:
"Edwin Forrest, who is basically our patron saint around here, was very much about America and celebrating what was great about America. And I thought that the 200th year would be a good excuse to do that. So everything's American -- American made, American authors, American actors."A life-size statue of Forrest and a portrait (right) grace one of the theatre's elegant stairwells.

Coming up soon: a production of Mel Brooks' "The Producers."

And Havard says it's the next decades that has him even more excited: "We do have grand plans to build a large continuing care retirement community and also include in it 36,000 square feet that would be developed to expanding The Walnut. We would have a 400-seat theatre in there; we would have additional classroom space for our school."

KYW Newsradio 1060 - Walnut Street Theatre

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