Professional Resident Theatre Returns to Worcester

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Merrimack Repertory Theatre presents Red at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, March 15-17, 2013.

A city the size of Worcester needs a resident theatre company. We’re invested in making Worcester a world-class cultural destination, and this is a key piece to that puzzle – we’ll do whatever we can do to make it a reality.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre and the Friends of Professional Theatre in Worcester announced today the beginning of the return of professional, resident theatre to New England’s second largest city. Following a four-week run in Lowell, MRT will present its production of John Logan’s Tony Award-winning play Red at Worcester’s historic The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts from March 15-17. This showcase of Red, an incredibly popular contemporary American drama, will be the perfect introduction for Worcester audiences to MRT’s work, and lay the foundation for MRT’s evolution into a two-city theatre company serving both Lowell and Worcester. A 240 seat black box theatre will be created on The Hanover Theatre’s stage, allowing for an intimate audience experience. Performance times and ticketing information for Red at The Hanover Theatre will be announced at a later date.

After Worcester’s Foothills Theatre closed in 2009, MRT Artistic Director Charles Towers consulted with Worcester’s Cultural Development Director Erin Williams and Hanover Theatre Executive Director Troy Siebels. They explored various scenarios for the development of a new non-profit, resident professional theatre company to serve the city. Over time, it became clear that a two-city civic partnership where one professional theatre company served two metropolitan areas made eminent sense. By producing work for audiences in Lowell and Worcester, it will be possible to sustain a theatre company at a level neither city could individually, allowing for the creation of stage productions of greater size and scope.

In 2011, MRT continued these discussions with Worcester’s cultural and civic leaders, and added area theatre lovers to the conversation. This lead to the formation of the Friends of Professional Theatre in Worcester to help develop the ideas proposed in these original meetings as well as the concept of MRT as a two-city theatre company serving audiences in Worcester and Lowell.

“I got to know the city of Worcester as long ago as 1971 when my father was transferred from New York with Hanover Insurance,” recalled Towers. “It’s the only major city in New England without a fully-professional theatre company and it deserves one. I think the idea that is circulating through the community about one theatre company serving two cities is smart, and the best way in this economic climate to quickly bring high-caliber theatre to downtown Worcester. I’ve been impressed and inspired by the civic, business and cultural leaders I have met so far, and look forward to having Worcester take its rightful place as home to first-rate professional theatre.”

“A city the size of Worcester needs a resident theatre company,” stated The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts Executive Director Troy Siebels. “We’re proud of what we do at The Hanover Theatre, but it should be just a piece of a broad and diverse theatrical scene. We’re invested in making Worcester a world-class cultural destination, and this is a key piece to that puzzle – we’ll do whatever we can do to make it a reality.”

Josephine Truesdell of the Friends group said “We are very excited about the prospect of bringing professional theater back to Worcester and especially so through MRT. The quality and range of shows they produce is outstanding! We have traveled to Lowell to see a number of productions and have been very impressed. Worcester certainly deserves to have professional theater and MRT has the energy and enthusiasm to make it happen!”

The Friends of Professional Theatre in Worcester will be holding events to build support for the return of live theatre to Worcester and help raise funds in support of the production of Red, as well as additional shows in seasons to come. Their next meeting will be May 3rd in Worcester and if you would like to become involved, please email WorcesterTheater(at)gmail(dot)com.

“The Board of MRT is absolutely thrilled to explore the possibility of sharing the art we create from the ground up with a vibrant sister city such as Worcester,” said MRT Board President Debra Grossman. “This opportunity would permit us to expand our presence, in addition to and beyond our loyal subscribers and patrons here in Greater Lowell. This exciting opportunity will allow us to enhance both the magnitude and quality of the art we present.” MRT Board Chair Nancy Donahue added, "As one of the founders of Merrimack Repertory Theatre it makes me tremendously proud to know that we have grown from a small professional theater in Lowell to a nationally recognized theater that will soon share our marvelous productions with the second largest city in Massachusetts".

MRT 2011-2012 season is sponsored by Lowell Bank. MRT is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

About The Hanover Theatre
The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, located in downtown Worcester, New England’s second largest city, has been recognized by Pollstar as one of the top 100 theatres in the world. After undergoing many name changes and renovations over the decades since its 1926 birth, The Hanover Theatre reopened in March 2008 following a $32 million historic restoration. Since then, the theatre has established its place as a rich entertainment and cultural venue, winning numerous awards, including The National Trust for Historic Preservation Award in 2010. For more information, visit Worcester Center for the Performing Arts, a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, owns and operates The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

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