? of the Day: What is the future of the Cleveland Playhouse?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 05/15/2006 - 06:59.

I commented, in a posting about an event at the Cleveland Playhouse, "I hate going to anything at the Cleveland Playhouse/MOCA complex - my last choice of venue for anything in NEO - which makes me sad, since I like good theater and they have the only significant Philip Johnson building in town".

I don't want to be critical, without explanation and enabling constructive feedback. But, bottom line, the area around the Cleveland Clinic is highly disturbing to me - the clinic has a huge population and massive facilities that are not designed to flow and integrate well with the community - it is an island, with its own police force, bridges, and fortresses enclosing a self-sufficient world, separate from its Cleveland neighborhoods by a moat of dozens of blocks of underutilized property, which includes the Cleveland Playhouse... acres of land and 300,000 sq ft of buildings in the moat... just like HealthSpace, just acquired by the Clinic. The primary functional value of the moat is to benefit the Clinic, in security, parking and other low-value services to Clinic workers and visitors.

Imagine if in its years of developing its hospital the Clinic had encouraged livable neighborhood development all around its facilities - a community for its doctors, residents, staff and the public to live, shop, dine and be entertained - imagine the cash flow in such a community. Thus, Mid-Town would be booming today... it could have been the center of the Cleveland arts and theater scene, anchored by a Cleveland Playhouse Arts neighborhood... there has always been plenty of land nearby in need if smart development, and Karamu made such great outcomes happen in their neighborhood, just a few blocks but many demographics away.

Instead, the Clinic has benefited from blight in the area, which drives down real estate costs, adding cost benefits for expansion of core facilities, at the loss of livable neighborhoods - thus, the Playhouse is in Clinicland, and that is not a healthy place for anyone but Clinic stakeholders and its patients.

What to do? I'd suggest move the Playhouse and let the Clinic have more land. There are significant new and expanding entertainment district developments in downtown Cleveland that would benefit from location of the Cleveland Playhouse nearby or within, like Playhouse Square (leveraging IdeaStream and the area theaters), E4th Street (how about in the May Company Building), even the Gateway District, Warehouse District, around the Galleria or Tower Press, or the Flats... in a livable part of town.

Or combine facilities with Karamu, or meld into several University Circle institutions... MoCA, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Case, Cleveland Institute of Music and Cleveland Institute of Art are all expanding and could accommodate part or all of Playhouse initiative. The Foundations just funded the merger of Cleveland Opera and Lyric Opera in recognition our arts organizations and facilities need to consolidate, and it is safe to say this need applies to theater as well as Opera (and ballet, which we've lost completely, for the time being).

Mid-Town is pushing to become a bio/nano/high tech and medical industries and services part of town - an innovation zone - and that is taking off and a good fit with CAMP, BioEnterprise, Clinic, Case/UH and other private and public development initiative in the area. They all need to work together in a master plan for the entire midtown community - which includes much of the Euclid Corridor - hopefully in recognition they are all part of many neighborhoods.

For more inside insight on the state of the Cleveland Playhouse, take a look at the notes from a 2005 "Tuesday@REI" with the Director of the Cleveland Playhouse, held at the former Center for Regional Economic Issues (REI) at Case, March 15, 2005, posted here and as a comment below for convenience...

What are your thoughts on all this? Any suggestions?

03.15.05 NOTES@REI: Director of Cleveland Playhouse

I reposted these notes from 2005 for your convenience - original posting is here

The 01.15.05 Tuesday@REI featured Cleveland Play House Managing Director
Dean Gladden speaking about the economic importance and vulnerability of his
esteemed organization. The Cleveland Play House is the oldest resident theater
in America, with a long history of financial sustainability and artistic success.
Yet, like so many important arts organizations in NEO, they are struggling to remain
viable in a changing competitive economic landscape, and MTV-nation.

One important realization is Northeast Ohio was so prosperous around the
turn of the 19th Century that wealthy philanthropists established
and funded some of the world's great cultural institutions, like the Cleveland Museum
of Art, the Orchestra, and the Play House, without the expectations the public
would share in the expense - consider the Cleveland Museum has in its charter
it will always be free to the public, and primary funding comes from their
endowment, foundations and private gifts. Unlike in every other major city,
where local, regional and state governments subsidize the arts, NEO cultural
organizations have typically survived throughout their histories with little
public subsidy. But now that the old money is less centralized in the Cleveland
area, and most major corporations have left the region, the funding base for
local arts and culture is disappearing, and other means of support must be
found. As Play House Director Dean Gladden points out, local arts organizations
now suffer for their past successes.

The economic dilemma Dean faces is how do you have a diverse and relevant
repertoire and education and arts center that all are fiscally sub-optimal.
They have 300,000 square feet - 1st resident theater in country - $7 million
operating budget - $14 million economic impact in the region - and how to pay
cost of utilities per day $1,200 - they subsidize - everyone wants to rent at
subrate rents (like MOCA paying $2.40 rent) - worked deal with Clinic to rent
50K square feet - and parking lots during day - rent to other theater groups to
use facility - have private restaurant club - partner with CWRU on MFA in
Theater for additional benefits and revenues - take real estate to subsidize
the institution (brings in $1.1 million). This has been their way of dealing
with the economy.

Most organizations like this are subsidized by the community - Playhouse
Square gets over $1 million per year from County - Cleveland Playhouse
subsidizes the Cleveland Browns through taxes on their parking.

Cleveland had great philanthropy around the turn of the century so we
developed great arts without expectation of subsidy - every other urban area
has city and state subsidy - paying for facilities - this unique history
allowed development of attitude here that arts don't require subsidy - now
suffer as result of historic success and overall decline of regional economy.
This has affected Playhouse - 10 years ago they got $400k/year from corporate
gifts - now $0.

Seeing change, the arts organizations went to the public seeking tax, which
was narrowly rejected last year. Largely, East side of city and Cuyahoga County
support arts, and supported the tax levy - West side does/did not - also places
which do not support own schools - example Parma, where only about 30% of
population supported tax.

Earned ticket revenue is 34% of total revenues - down from 50% (hence need
for renting facilities and generating other revenues) - urban sprawl has hurt them
as people are less inclined to come in for arts and entertainment. Corporate
giving trends are loss of companies and so giving - if not "home"
company they don't care - 10 years from now our only company may be
Progressive. Arts organizations need to build up endowments and be creative in
finding and developing value.

Playhouse is fortunate they have assets to leverage - real estate and
facilities to rent out. Clinic already rents out 50K square feet and parking
from Play House - have 12 acres of land, of which some can be better developed,
which they may do with the Clinic. Also looking to the future, they are putting
together a revised master plan for their facilities. E.g. - parking lot with
Clinic deal came from risk of CVS store coming to property.

Challenge in the art form - changing world - we spend hours a day on the
internet - city has transformed approach to entertainment - people don't want
to think any more - play over 2 hours is suicide - how do you make theater
relevant to all people and especially younger generations? Subscription
audience has been declining across marketplace across country - very
challenging business. They are focusing on creating events around theater.

Any benefit from $20 million in housing development around Play House
neighborhood? Not significant.

Cleveland Public Theater is a very different entity - small theaters are
great too.

Doesn't expect much impact from Euclid Corridor transit plan. Expects more
loft/housing space on Euclid Avenue, which is important.

Suggestion what if Play House offered "play bites" around community

History and 2006/7 future of the Cleveland Playhouse

I'm looking for more on the history of the Cleveland Play House. The website offers limited inisight, which I link below with the announcement of their 2006/7 season. If anyone knows more about the history of this institution, its facilities on Euclid Avenue, and the historic relationship with Karamu, please post details here... from the Play House press releases...

Founded in 1915, The Cleveland Play House is America's first permanently established professional theatre.  Over the past 88 years, more than 11 million people have attended The Cleveland Play House's 1,300 productions - 100 of which were American and/or World premieres.  At 300,000 square feet, the Philip Johnson-designed Cleveland Play House complex houses five performance spaces making it the largest regional theatre complex in the country. The Cleveland Play House receives support from the Ohio Arts Council.

My Fair Lady, Ella, Rabbit Hole Among the Offerings in Ambitious Season


jfogel [at] clevelandplayhouse [dot] com

(April 2, 2006) Cleveland Play House Artistic Director Michael Bloom announces the 2006-2007 Season. Two musicals highlight the lineup at America’s first professional resident theatre, which enters its 91st consecutive season, including the first Play House production of My Fair Lady. The Play House will also be among the few regional theatres to produce the critically acclaimed Broadway drama Rabbit Hole this year.

“The 2006-2007 Season is one of the largest, most ambitious seasons at The Play House in recent years,” said Bloom, who begins his third year as Play House Artistic Director.  “We’re expanding our offerings classically and, with the inclusion of two of the most important new voices in American Theatre – Sarah Ruhl and David Lindsay-Abaire, we’re continuing our commitment to produce the work of contemporary playwrights.”

The Play House will also honor two American icons during the 2006-2007 Season. Tony-Award-nominee Tina Fabrique will bring her remarkable performance as Ella Fitzgerald to the Bolton Stage for The Play House production of Ella.  And with the first regional performance of this season’s off-Broadway hit RFK, The Play House reveals an intimate portrait of Robert F. Kennedy in a production written by and starring Jack Holmes.

With the current season’s FusionFest set to open May 2, plans for are already underway for next season’s offerings with John Strand’s new political comedy, commissioned by South Coast Rep, Lincolnesque, as the centerpiece. For the holidays, The Play House’s very successful production of Phil Grecian’s adaptation of A Christmas Story will be remounted for an off-subscription run.

After experiencing increased attendance at preview performances following a shift in the production schedule during the 2005-2006 Season, The Play House will continue to offer previews over the first Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday of each production in the 2006-2007 mainstage subscription series. Opening Nights for media review will be the first Wednesday of each production.

Subscription packages to The Play House’s eight-play 2006-2007 mainstage season’s Signature Series range from $234 (reduced from the 2005-2006 Season) to $342 and are available by calling (216) 795-7000 ext. 4. In comparison to purchasing full-priced single tickets to each of the eight shows in the 2006-2007 Play House Season, the savings offered by subscribing to the Signature Series is equivalent to receiving two shows free.

Subscribers to The Play House’s eight-play mainstage season’s Signature Series also receive free parking and will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to A Christmas Story in advance of the general public. With nearly every performance of this holiday favorite playing to sold-out houses this past season, The Play House anticipates another high-demand run in 2006-2007. Play House Subscribers receive first choice of seating, flexible no-fee ticket exchanges, ticket insurance and pre-sale ticket offers, as well as fine dining discounts at participating area restaurants.

Single tickets to all productions offered in The Play House 2006-2007 Season will go on sale August 15, 2006.

Look for a special “Christmas in July” sale date for single tickets to A Christmas Story.

Single ticket prices for 2006-2007 are as follows:

Preview Performances: $38-$43; Tuesday through Thursday, and Sunday matinee performances: $42-$47; Friday evening, Saturday matinee and Saturday evening performances: $51-$56.

The Cleveland Play House 2006-2007 Mainstage Season


By David Lindsay-Abaire

Directed by Michael Bloom

Drury Theatre, September 15 – October 8, 2006

When a tragic accident turns the Corbett family's world upside down, everyone copes with the loss and the need for renewal in their own way. Written by one of America's most important young playwrights, Rabbit Hole is a moving family play that charts the Corbetts’ bittersweet search for comfort and a path that will lead them back into the light of day.  "A beautifully observed new play…blessed with grace and wit!" wrote Ben Brantley in The New York Times. Michael Kuchwara of the Associated Press called Rabbit Hole "a startling, heartfelt, remarkable new play."


By Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe

Directed by Amanda Dehnert

Bolton Theatre, October 6 – November 5, 2006

Can Professor Henry Higgins transform a poor flower girl named Eliza Doolittle into a lovely young woman of high society? With “Just You Wait,” “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” this Lerner and Loewe musical is among the most honored and best loved in the history of American musical theatre. This special, intimate two-piano version of the production was approved by the authors years ago, but is rarely performed.


Written by and Starring Jack Holmes

Directed by Larry Moss

Drury Theatre, October 27 – November 19, 2006

Still shocked over the loss of his brother, Robert F. Kennedy is told by President Johnson that he is not going to be the next Vice President. Undeterred by disappointment, this young politician with one of the most powerful names in America becomes a champion of peace, justice, equality and responsibility—a path that leads him to the brink of greatness. This critically acclaimed solo performance, straight from one of the hottest off-Broadway theatres in New York, reveals Robert F. Kennedy, the man, as you’ve never seen him before.

A CHRISTMAS STORY – Off-Subscription

Adapted by Philip Grecian

Directed by Seth Gordon

Bolton Theatre, November 30 – December 23, 2006

Philip Grecian’s stage adaptation of Jean Shepherd’s fond and funny tribute to the original, traditional, 100% red-blooded, All-American Christmas. Join young Ralphie Parker in his quest for the “Holy Grail of Christmas presents” – a genuine Red Ryder 200 Shot Carbine Action Air Rifle. Gaze in wonder at his father’s “major award.” Based on the movie filmed in Cleveland in 1983, this classic holiday comedy is a funny and sweet tale of growing up in the 1940s suitable for ages 5 and up – and back by popular demand!


John Steinbeck

Directed by Seth Gordon

Drury Theatre, January 5 – 28, 2007

Clinging to each other for support during one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history, drifters George and his simple-minded friend Lennie dream of a place to call their own. After they come to work on a ranch in California, their hopes – much like “the best laid schemes o’ mice and men” – begin to go awry. One of the great classics of both literature and drama in American history, The New York Times calls this play “A thriller…a gripping tale!”


By Charles Randolph Wright

Adapted from the book by Craig Marberry

Directed by Israel Hicks

Bolton Theatre, February 2 – 25, 2007

Local barbershops are communities unto themselves. Its denizens are the storytellers of their time, sharing the joys and troubles life hands them. Together, these colorful stories illustrate a remarkably simple truth: “When you have history, you belong.” Based on the book by Craig Marberry, who co-wrote Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats.


By Sarah Ruhl

Directed by Davis McCallum

Drury Theatre, March 2 – 25, 2007

Mathilda doesn’t want to clean. She wants to tell jokes – in Portuguese. The trouble is she is Lane’s live-in maid. And Lane has everything - her husband is successful, she has her own busy career, or so she thinks, and all she wants is a clean house. The New York Times calls playwright Sarah Ruhl “a provocative new theatrical voice” and The Clean House “visionary.”


Book by Jeffrey Hatcher

Conceived by Rob Ruggiero and Dyke Garrison

Musical Direction and Arrangements by Danny Holgate

Based on an original play by Dyke Garrison

Bolton Theatre, March 23 – April 15, 2007

It’s 1966. Ella Fitzgerald has invited a combo of her favorite musicians to jam with her. As the session unfolds, and Ella prepares for one of the most challenging concerts of her life, we get the inside story of this “nice girl,” her loves, losses, and triumphs. With Tony-nominee Tina Fabrique singing some of Ella’s best loved songs, we experience her highs and lows as she breaks through to a celebration of music and life.


By John Strand

Directed by Michael Bloom

Drury Theatre, April 27 – May 20, 2007

Leo is a speechwriter for a United States congressman who is behind in the polls. Desperate to save his job, and eager to infuse idealism into a tattered campaign, he turns for advice to his older brother Francis – who just happens to believe he’s Abraham Lincoln. Suddenly the words of a great President make Leo and his boss frontrunners. This sassy new political comedy presents a view of behind-the-scenes-Washington, D.C. you won’t find on “The West Wing.”

Charity Navigator on Cleveland Play House

There's an interesting site called Charity Navigator that evaluates the Cleveland Play House's financial performance and status relative to peers, which is interesting... they define the Play House here as:

Founded in 1915, The Cleveland Play House is America's first permanently established professional theatre. Over the past 88 years, more than 11 million people have attended The Cleveland Play House's 1,300 productions - 100 of which were American and/or world premieres. At 300,000 square feet, the Philip Johnson-designed Cleveland Play House complex houses five performance spaces making it the largest regional theatre complex in the country. The mission of The Cleveland Play House is to produce plays of the highest professional standards that inspire, stimulate, and entertain our diverse audiences and to conduct training and educational programs that enhance the quality of life for those we serve and help to insure the future of theatre.

Wikipedia on Play House

Cleveland Play House

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

The Cleveland Play House is a regional theater company and also the name of a theater complex in the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio. As of 2005, the artistic director of the theater company is Michael Bloom, the eighth since its inception.

Founded in 1915, it is the oldest regional theater in America. An expansion designed by architect Philip Johnson was added in 1983. The complex consists of the 548-seat Bolton Theatre, the 505-seat Drury Theatre, the 138-seat Brooks Theatre (all three proscenium), the 312-seat Baxter stage (black box) that makes use of the Bolton's main stage, and a 120 seat black box theater named Studio One.

In addition to producing new and classic works, the Play House rents its spaces to various Cleveland companies, including Lyric Opera Cleveland, Dobama Theater, Ensemble Theater, and Cleveland Signstage Theater.

Its regular 2005 season includes A Streetcar Named Desire, a staged version of A Christmas Story, Dream A Little Dream and I Am My Own Wife, as well as three children's shows.

2005 3rd year graduate students at CWRU preform A Mid Summer Night's Dream at the Cleveland Playhouse in the Brooks Theatre

2005 3rd year graduate students at CWRU preform A Mid Summer Night's Dream at the Cleveland Playhouse in the Brooks Theatre

The Playwrights' Unit

The director of new play development is Seth Gordon. Members of the Playwrights' unit are:

External links

living in the shadow of the clinic

Norm, NORM!

Are you trying to beat Peter (B. Lewis) at his game? You have the most radical ideas I've heard around Cleveland redevelopment in the past 27 years! Move the Cleveland Playhouse? !-- like on a trailer? I agree that it is in a difficult neighborhood and could benefit from accessibility by transport routes (highways go nowhere near it -- maybe the opportunity corridor will help), but you're right; it is in the shadow of the Clinic with its massive citadelesque, unfriendly, non pedestrian landscape. You’re right; the Clinic has developed with complete disregard for the surrounding environs. When I first moved here, the corner of East 105 and Euclid was aerosol-town replete with the street life including hookers and dope dealers PBL seems to miss. But apparently the folks who attended concerts at Severance Hall were not happy getting out of their cars so near real city life and so when it was time to build the Walker Rehab Center it was blighted area and despite the fact that Walker sat unused for a long time, it was built there – like a mausoleum (sort of like the BP Building at Public Square now that BP is gone). All the life went out of the neighborhood. (Prospect Avenue, too, was a lively strip until the city “cleaned it up” -- read moved the trade to Brookpark Road). So now we have two big chunks of real-estate, both with little community interaction, anchoring the east end of the Euclid Corridor -- Case and The Clinic.


I remember, too, when the Playhouse decided that this corporate mausoleum style of building was a good idea. They made themselves a castle and a moat, fired the local company and seemed on the brink of trying to “take the organization public”. Of course, this is not a proper way of speaking about what a nonprofit can do, but what I mean is they seemed to be saying, we want big names (and these folks in our company aren’t big enough), national names and a big building to play in, so we are going to go for the BIG TIME and the BIG TOP—a literal three ring circus.


Sound familiar? Sound like Case’s recent debacle of dropping the Western Reserve University part of their history? Could it have alienated the very people they intended to court to pay for the BIG TRANSFORMATION?


Still, what does University Circle lack? A Theater! There is no viable, flexible performance space in University Circle. There are the little tiny Eldred and Mather for theater and dance, the music only venues Severance, Kulas and Gartner and a seriously uncomfortable film watching space inside CIA (a hard space designed for midgets). The Museum of Natural History, too, has one of these talking heads with slides style auditoriums, not good for too much of anything else really and certainly not used for much else. There is a lovely little auditorium inside The Temple, but it is asbestos ridden and pretty shallow for lots of theater. It also has a moribund counterweight fly rail system and little backstage space. Still, if we wanted to put the life back into the neighborhood, we would encourage the Clinic to do a series of shows at the Cleveland Playhouse like works by wonderful BIG NAME artists who have written about, choreographed about science and technology issues like this dance work by Liz Lerman about genomes – Ferocious Beauty. Listen to this fascinating podcast! http://greatdance.com/danceblog/archives/podcasts/000511.php


The Clinic could commission artists to create work based on the health issues they are researching. They could invite playwrights to work with them in the labs and make plays about the stories they discover in the hallowed halls of “The Clinic”. After all, artists are good at articulating the hard questions that science uncovers. The Clinic could jump on the sustainability bandwagon and encourage interaction among the clean up the air and water folk and the health professionals who could discuss how those sustainability efforts will benefit us.


I guess I don’t see the necessity of moving the Playhouse, but I do see that they could fill their space with things that make young people want to go there. If CIA is going to move downtown or somewhere, John Ewing should be encouraged to bring Cinematheque to the Playhouse complex. There will soon be a moribund gallery space there when MOCA moves out… what art could replace that soon dead space? Maybe The Clinic should give back more to the community by building and subsidizing (low rent stabilizing) some hip new retail/restaurant space designed by someone who does small modern green buildings and plop it down right between the clinic and the playhouse. OK OK, I know, even though they have given money to the Cleveland Schools (none of which has been seen yet) and it is a pittance and they seem to be blithely building their empire with complete disregard for the neighborhood, might someone try again to suggest good behavior to the Clinic and might we not suggest something even more radical than FusionFest (this concept is so tired) to the board of the Playhouse before we decide that it might do better where Burke Lakefront is now?


I love your ideas. Do you stay up late at night playing SimCity? http://simcity.ea.com/ Or do you do you rearrange Cleveland’s real estate in your head?

I take this lead from the Gunds, not Lewis




The Gunds showed how easy it is to tear down man's mistakes, having demolished the Richfield Colliseum to leave a field. That is progress, and the Gund, er "Q", and the Cavs and entertainment are back in the big city where they belong. Man has made huge mistakes developing this region, and we contine to mess it up today - plan on $5 gas and redraw the plans for the future for everything... times change...


I do not believe that all area education, entertainment, arts and culture should be centered in University Circle. Still, Severance Hall rocks, and the Cleveland Insititute of Music is investing in expanding their facilities there, so their world-class theaters are certain for the long haul.... the museum is also investing $250 million to transform its corner of the circle, and MoCA plans to spend $20-30 million to move from the void of the Cleveland Playhouse property to what they expect will be a more alive neighborhood in UC... perhaps another $30 million for CIA facilities... $100s millions more on Case and UH, and other secondary developments around the Triangle and Mt. Sinai... there's plenty of space available and being built for the arts and education in all of that and related projects in University Circle so if the Playhouse belongs in University Circle then it should meld into some of the other development projects there - first three floors of a luxury condo building on the old CIA site on Wade Oval, for example... or a collaboration with the East Cleveland Theater and Library, which both have unique facilities near UC... join in further East Cleveland development planned. Include housing, with some walkable dining and other lifestyle improvements, and a theater complex could do well in the expanding University Circle of the future, with the proper mission.


But I don't see any indication the Playhouse is part of any regional or local planning - they're just there. Just because folks built a theater in the development path of one of the world's most significant hospitals (actually, it is between the Clinic and UH) doesn't mean the theater belongs there. Sell it all to the Clinic for reuse of the Philip Johnson structure and whatever other structures are useful, just like HealthSpace.


I don't think all theater in NEO should be in one place - we are a big region of creative people with many schools and universities teaching theater... I went with friends in Berea to a great play at the lovely Baldwin Wallace theater, for $10, which offered a great value and experience... we seem to have lots of great theater in NEO.


As a kid, I went to the Great Lakes Theater Festival at Lakewood High School, for years, before it moved to Playhouse Square (not to be confused with the Cleveland Playhouse), and that always provided great experiences... Playhouse Square always offers great experiences! Is GLTF still great? Since I love the experience of going to Playhouse Square theaters, especially as that area is gaining life and energy, so I will go to the GLTF and find out.


Karamu and Cleveland Public Theater are extra special, as they are anchoring development of their neighborhoods, and they offer great experiences. The Play House can't do that where they are located today.


Playhouse Square has certainly anchored development downtown, and that is now expanding dramatically. Why isn't The Play House in Playhouse Square?


And no, I don't play SimCity or any video games, but Phillip and I want to see if the developers of SimCity will issue a Cleveland version... we'll keep you posted.

tearing down the past

Please go to this other drupal site to read about another WONDERFUL in-town tear down and leave down. The CMHA teardown on the west bank of the Cuyahoga that will become a park.
This teardown reverses a set of initially altruistic, but ultimately destructive sweeping historical urban planning rules in one fell swoop. May it continue.
Read here: http://gcbl.org/planning/canalway/towpath-trail#comment-98

and another problem for the Playhouse

They say, "Buy our subscription now and save!" Well, are we buying it?
At $342 or $684 for two, I don't know many young people who are. Maybe I should meet them...
better yet, Bloom and his board folk might want to sign up for this workshop coming up at the National Arts Marketing Conference:

Embracing the Late Buyer: Yield Management and Other Dynamic Pricing Strategies
Speakers: Philippe Ravanas, Columbia College Chicago
Chad Bauman, Virginia Stage Company
David James, North Shore Music Theatre
Moderator: Philippe Ravanas, Columbia College Chicago
Let's face it: market pressure on subscriptions and the increase of last-minute buyers are here to stay. These trends are deeply rooted in the evolution of consumption patterns, life style, and technology. At the same time, marketing single tickets over the Internet is faster and cheaper than ever before. Is it time to look beyond subscriptions and invent a new paradigm? Should we price like the airlines, setting price according to predicted demand levels and to each customer's price sensitivity? In the 2004–2005 season, Virginia Stage Company (VSC) was only selling 25 percent of its capacity during preview performances. After much research, VSC launched the Best Ticket in Town program in midseason, which lowered some ticket prices to less than a movie ticket. Hear too how North Shore Music Theatre tested a variety of pricing structures. http://www.americansforthearts.org/events/2006/abc/namc/033.asp

There has to be an affordable option to get us to the theater (not movie theater) and out of the local bar, restaurant, living room. When you add the time set aside for dinner beforehand, the travel time from Westlake and the sitter for the evening, even $76 for you and yours to take in a play on a weeknight is out of the question for many money concious young and middleaged adults in our economically challenged city. Could this be why they all go to CPT and not the Playhouse? Hmmmm....

I agree about theater pricing - we need full houses

I went to the opening performance of the Cleveland Orchestra and several performances of the Opera this year and I was shocked by how poor was the attendance. I would hate to perform for a half full house, especially knowing I am providing the best entertainment in the world. It is depressing to be in the audience - you feel like you must clap for the whole community that is missing.

I believe sprawl is the biggest factor in the declining attendance - there are plenty of wealthy people in the region (many rich doctors, professors and other professionals work within a mile of the Cleveland Play House), and they can afford the cost of the tickets, but they have abandoned the arts.

Knowing those suburban folks aren't coming back, the arts insitituions in town need to attract new patrons in the region, and to the region. Institutions like the Play House must become desirable to the GenX and Y and younger or they will die. Part of the challenge is providing programming that interests those segments, and that is fair game for all. Once a potential patron is attracted to programming, the buy will depend on the experience offered, received, and shared by word of mouth.

I don't believe there is a shortage of people intellectually interested in Opera and classical music, but I question the experiences offered to partons by the institutions providing such programming.  And  I share with you concern about the cost to patrons.

One solution offered by Case to their students is the "Free Access Program", which allows Case students free access to many area arts institutions and cultural experiences. Such a program should be made available to all students of all schools and their friends and family - perhaps not free for all... but if the house is half empty is it not better for it to be full? It's not like patrons expect free peanuts or anything... here's how Free Access works if you go to Case...

Cleveland Play House
8500 euclid avenue

The Cleveland Play House is America's first permanently established professional theatre. Among the largest complexes in the nation, its five performance venues attract more than 140,000 patrons annually. This nationally recognized regional theatre has produced premieres by Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Luigi Pirandello and Bertolt Brecht. Actors Paul Newman, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, Madeline Kahn, Jane Krakowski and Calista Flockhart have all appeared at The Play House.

Free tickets to weekend evening performances are available to students through a weekly drawing sponsored by the Office of Student Affairs. On Mondays and Tuesdays, students may enter the drawing in person at 110 Adelbert Hall or submit an electronic request on Monday ONLY. The drawing is held each Wednesday and winners' names are posted in the Office of Student Affairs at noon. Tickets must be claimed with a Case student ID between noon on Wednesday and 3pm on Thursday. Unclaimed tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis on Thursday at 3pm. For more information, call the Office of Student Affairs at 216-368-2020.

Quality of theater important too!

I have always loved live theater. I was very active in theater in high school and I even thought of majoring in theater in college. I have attended many theater festivals and I have seen hundreds of plays, musicals, and operas -- many in Cleveland. Though I have really tried to like lthe Cleveland Play House, I just have a bad impression of the quality of their productions. I am almost apprehensive about going to anything there. I feel really terrible about this. I would never want to discourage anyone in the arts, so I am not going to critique any particular play I saw there, but I must say that a student production of A Mid Summer Nights Dream that I saw recently at Baldwin Wallace College was far more entertaining than anything I have ever seen at The Cleveland Play House. We do have great theater in Cleveland, its just not at The Cleveland Play House and the price of your ticket does n't necessarily reflect the value of the performance.

Below's the history of the Cleveland Play House

Below's the history of the Cleveland Play House, from the CWRU site of "The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History"...a bit out of date but as of 1997.

So they started bohemian in spirit, and then over a few decades and sites they built a massive complex, which has had ups and downs for half a century if not longer.

I think the Play House should return to it's Bohemian roots - in fact, get absolutely radical and integrate and optimize the entire regional theater industry in the process - go underground - go Hermit Club - go Masonic Auditorium - go Playhouse Square - go CPT - go open source and virtual organization - be the theater commuity of NEO, regardless of venue.

Sell the whole Play House complex to the Clinic, or UH, or Akron General, or Kaiser - national search for most innovative proposal - use eminent domain to take over the abandoned supermarket and other blighted property in immediate area - requirement to maintain the historically significant architecture and enhance urban core with street level retail, mixed use, etc., and of course go LEEDS - perhaps requirement to maintain one fully functional theater for lease back for Play House performances, but only if part of a large scale, very upscale  housing and mixed use complex, which is probably nor economically viable.

This gets the Play House out of the real estate maintenance, management, rental and ownership businesses, and puts prime real estate into higher and better use of far greater value to mid town and University Circle, and Cleveland.

If the Play House is great at production, or education, or promotion, then they should do only those things - focus on their competitive advantages (just good business). They are very fortunate they have a large asset to leverage - be brave.

BTW - they have an important library of 5000 rare books - it would be great to put that somewhere it is really accessible and appreciated... read on:

The CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE developed from a discussion group held weekly at the home of CHAS. S. BROOKS†. In 1916 members of the group formed the Play House Co. for the purpose of establishing a theater based on the bohemian spirit of art theaters in Paris and Moscow. Brooks was the company's first president, and Raymond O'Neil its first art director. FREDERIC MCCONNELL† became director in 1921, a post he held until his retirement in 1958. His successors have included K. ELMO LOWE† (1958-69), Richard Oberlin (1971-85), and Wm. Rhys (1985-87). From a converted church on Cedar Ave., the Play House moved in 1926 into a new complex built on land donated by Frances Drury on E. 86th St. between Euclid and Carnegie, containing the 522-seat Drury Theater and the 160-seat Brooks Theater. Later, in 1949, a third stage was acquired when a church at the corner of Euclid and E. 77th St. was converted into a 560-seat apron-stage theater. During the 1920s, its original emphasis on avant-garde theater began to soften as the Play House moved into more mainstream theater production and the company became increasingly professionalized. In 1958 it became an equity company, in which only members of Actors' Equity could join the permanent company. The Play House remained fairly conservative in its theater offerings throughout the 1960s and 1970s, for which it was occasionally criticized. Mounting costs and recurring deficits caused it to cut the number of productions from 15-20 per year to less than 12. A renaissance began in 1983 with the dedication of a new $14-million complex designed by Cleveland native Philip Johnson, incorporating the Drury and Brooks theaters with the new 644-seat Kenyon C. Bolton Theater (replacing the E. 77th St. theater) and the old Sears Carnegie store for use of the production staff and the Play House Club. With the appointment of Josephine Abady as artistic director in 1987, the resident company was disbanded, an exchange program was inaugurated with the New Experimental Theatre of Volgograd, Russia, and a program was inaugurated to better represent the city's multi-cultural population, both on stage and in the audience. In 1994 Peter Hackett replaced Abady as artistic director. In 1995 the Play House opened the Leland and Helen Schubert Library, which was comprised of a 5,000-volume rare theater book collection donated by the Schuberts. The library was housed in the southwest tower of the Play House complex.

Oldenburg, Chloe Warner. Leaps of Faith: History of the Cleveland Play House, 1915-85 (1985).

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BROOKS, CHARLES STEPHEN (25 June 1878-29 June 1934) was an essayist and playwright who was instrumental in the founding of the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE. A Cleveland native, and the son of Stephen E. and Mary (Coffinberry) Brooks, he graduated from WEST HIGH SCHOOL and Yale University (1900) and then entered the family printing and stationery business. After rising to the rank of vice-president, he retired in 1915 to devote himself to a literary career that produced more than a dozen volumes. Most of these consisted of essays gleaned from numerous bicycle travels in England and elsewhere, of which the first, Journeys to Baghdad, was published in 1915. He indulged in a leisurely style on such fanciful topics as "The Decline of Night-Caps" and "In Defense of Plagiarism." He also wrote plays, of which Wappin' Wharf, a pirate comedy, had received 150 presentations by 1931. Brooks was a founder and first president of the Cleveland Play House (1915), which produced 2 of his plays and named one of the theaters in its first permanent home after him. Brooks headed the theater's building campaign and at his death was president of the Play House Foundation. During WORLD WAR I he had served on the House Commission gathering data for the use of the American peace delegation at Versailles. He also lectured on English literature at Western Reserve University (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY). Brooks married Minerva Kline (see MINERVA K. BROOKS†) in 1907. Following a divorce from her in 1925, he married Mary S. Curtis Brown in 1929. Together they produced several of his short plays in their home on Magnolia Dr. One of Brooks' last works, Prologue, is a memoir of his childhood on the near west side. Brooks had no children and is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

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BROOKS, CHARLES STEPHEN (25 June 1878-29 June 1934) was an essayist and playwright who was instrumental in the founding of the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE. A Cleveland native, and the son of Stephen E. and Mary (Coffinberry) Brooks, he graduated from WEST HIGH SCHOOL and Yale University (1900) and then entered the family printing and stationery business. After rising to the rank of vice-president, he retired in 1915 to devote himself to a literary career that produced more than a dozen volumes. Most of these consisted of essays gleaned from numerous bicycle travels in England and elsewhere, of which the first, Journeys to Baghdad, was published in 1915. He indulged in a leisurely style on such fanciful topics as "The Decline of Night-Caps" and "In Defense of Plagiarism." He also wrote plays, of which Wappin' Wharf, a pirate comedy, had received 150 presentations by 1931. Brooks was a founder and first president of the Cleveland Play House (1915), which produced 2 of his plays and named one of the theaters in its first permanent home after him. Brooks headed the theater's building campaign and at his death was president of the Play House Foundation. During WORLD WAR I he had served on the House Commission gathering data for the use of the American peace delegation at Versailles. He also lectured on English literature at Western Reserve University (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY). Brooks married Minerva Kline (see MINERVA K. BROOKS†) in 1907. Following a divorce from her in 1925, he married Mary S. Curtis Brown in 1929. Together they produced several of his short plays in their home on Magnolia Dr. One of Brooks' last works, Prologue, is a memoir of his childhood on the near west side. Brooks had no children and is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

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LOWE, K. ELMO (27 Aug. 1899-26 Jan. 1971) capped 48 years as an actor and director with the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE by serving as its second managing director in the 1960s. He was born in San Antonio, Tex., but raised in Los Angeles, Calif., where one of his boyhood friends was future baritone Lawrence Tibbett. He studied acting at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he worked with FREDERIC MCCONNELL† and married fellow student Dorothy Paxton (1900-3 July 1982) of Greenville, Miss. When McConnell was named first managing director of the Cleveland Play House in 1921, he brough the Lowes with him. Lowe achieved a reputation as a matinee idol in the 1920s, one Play House legend holding that they couldn't display his picture in the lobby without its being stolen by female admirers. No one at the Play House seemed to know what the K stood for in his name; even his wife called him "K," and he always called her "Paxton." They often appeared together on the same stage, sometimes playing husband and wife. Lowe appeared in an estimated 300 roles and also began directing, exerting a formative influence on the careers of such Play House alumni as Russell Collins, MARGARET HAMILTON†, and Joel Gray. Serving as assistant to McConnell, he also organized the local Federal Theatre Project of the WPA in 1935-36. Following McConnell's retirement in 1958, Lowe succeeded to the post of managing director of the Play House, which he held until his own retirement in 1969. He died at UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS OF CLEVELAND, survived by Paxton and an actress daughter, Stanja.

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The HERMIT CLUB, 1629 Dodge Ct., is a meeting place for professionals and business people with talent in and appreciation of the performing arts. Organized by Cleveland architect FRANK BELL MEADE†, it was patterned after the Lambs Club in New York. The Hermits' first "abbey," or headquarters, designed by Meade, was built on Hickox Pl. (3rd St.) in the heart of the downtown theatrical district of the day. Beginning in 1904, annual theatrical productions of musical comedies were staged by the Hermits as an outlet for their creative talents and as a means of paying off the abbey's indebtedness. Since then the Hermits' shows have been staged only for the pleasure of their members and friends. Out of these shows have evolved many of the Hermits' specialized performing groups, such as the Hermit Symphony Orchestra, the Hermit Jazz Group (known earlier as the Hermit Blues), the Hermit Chorus, the Hermit Drama Group, and the Hermitcrafters. The Hermit Club is best symbolized by its present abbey on Dodge Ct., whose construction in 1928 reflected the shift of the focal point of theater in Cleveland from lower Euclid Ave. to PLAYHOUSE SQUARE. Also designed by Meade, its English Tudor exterior of plaster walls and hand-hewn timbers exudes an Old World atmosphere. The interior features Gothic architecture and includes dining rooms, card rooms, reading rooms, and a lounge. Membership is limited to 400. The club has a ladies' auxiliary composed of widows of members.

Thomas, William H. The Pit, the Footlights, and the Wings: The Dramatic Record of the Hermit Club, 1904-1954 (1954).

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The MAY SHOW is an annual juried exhibition of the works of northeast Ohio artists sponsored every spring by the CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART. The first Annual Exposition of Cleveland Artists & Craftsmen, as the show was called before it earned the popular nickname "May Show," took place in 1919. The idea for an exhibition featuring works of Cleveland artists was proposed by museum director FREDERIC ALLEN WHITING† as a means of spurring artistic growth and development in Cleveland by providing an annual review of artists' works and an opportunity for art patrons in Cleveland to buy works. The first May Show allowed artists to display works created up to 10 years previous to the exhibition; beginning with the second show, however, only the previous year's work was eligible for submission. WM. M. MILLIKEN†, then curator of decorative arts, was in charge of the exhibition, a position he was to hold until his retirement (as museum director) in 1958. In the first show there were 36 classes, including oil and watercolor painting, graphic arts, photography, sculpture, basketry, enamelwork, and garden design. In 1961 the show was opened to artists in the entire Western Reserve, encompassing 13 counties. The number of categories was later established at 5: painting, sculpture, graphics, photography, and crafts. Awards include 5 cash awards of $1,000 and the Horace E. Potter Award for Excellence in Craftsmanship. More than 1,000 artists entered the 1990 show, of which 170 were accepted for exhibition. Following a 2-year hiatus occasioned by the CMA's 75th anniversary exhibitions, the May Show resumed on 9 June 1993.

In 1995, CMA offered a traveling exhibition of contemporary art instead of the May show, and in the summer of 1996, to mark the city's bicentenniel, CMA planned to present a survey of 150 years of Cleveland art--from the city's founding to 1945--which would feature the work of MARGARET BOURKE-WHITE†, CHARLES BURCHFIELD†, WILLIAM SOMMER†, LOUIS RORIMER† and many other internationally known artists.

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What is the future of the Cleveland Playhouse

I was just looking back at some of the cool Forum topics posted over the years... we don't use them much, since everything is a forum on REALNEO, but they have some amazing concepts in a valuable structure.

Anyway, this one reminded me a friend recently said the Clinic wants the Play House site and the Play House is "in play". Anyone else hear anything about such things lately?

Disrupt IT

let CCF have more land - NR 2006

And indeed they may - CPH moves to PhSq -

The Euclid Avenue landmark would sell its longtime home and settle into a renovated Allen Theater. The multi-million dollar plan would not be complete until 2011 at the earliest. And one of the biggest players could be the land-hungry Cleveland Clinic.


Please scroll to the top and read the original 2006 post.