Regional Theater of The Week: The Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend
BroadwayWorld.com, the largest theatre site on the Internet, is excited to announce a new feature to its comprehensive regional coverage - the Featured Regional Theater of the Week! Each week, BWW will introduce its readers to a regional theater located in one of our (over 130!) coverage cities. By exploring these different venues, their history and showcasing the production seasons, BWW continues its commitment to expand our presence in communities and cities across the United States.
This Week's Featured Regional Theater: The Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, Indiana!
Built in 1921 at a then-staggering cost of $1 million, the Morris Theater was once dubbed the most modern theater in the country. At the time of its construction, the theater was named 'The Palace Theater' to reflect the vision of the building's architect, J.S. Aroner, whose design incorporated a blend of architectural styles and grandiose decor. Aroner wanted The Palace to resemble, "A little palace; a place in which theatergoers could feel as if they were royalty."
Exterior facade of the Morris Center, with its state-of-the-art electronic marquee with LED boards
The Palace Theater was a stop for many famous acts including the Ziegfield Follies starring Fanny Brice, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Amos and Andy, Houdini, Betty Davis, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. In the late 1950s, following the rise in popularity of the television, attendance at the theater plummeted and the theater board voted to demolish the building. A local philanthropist by the name of Mrs. Ella M. Morris stepped forward to save the theater from ruin and purchased the building, selling it back to the city for a mere dollar. In recognition of her generosity, the Palace re-opened under the name of the Morris Civic Auditorium.
Inside The Morris
The theater continued to operate until 1998, when a $17 million restoration project was undertaken to renovate the building. In 2000, the theater re-opened under its new name, The Morris Performing Arts Center.
View from the stage
Today, The Morris Performing Arts Center houses the Morris Theater, the Palais Royale Ballroom and the Morris Bistro Restaurant. With a seating capacity of 2,564, the Morris Theater hosts over 100 performances a year, presenting a diverse program of Broadway, comedy, classical, symphony, dance, and family shows. The theater is also home to the South Bend Orchestra and the Broadway Theater League.
The Morris' Broadway series kicks off its new season with TAP DOGS, WICKED, ROCK OF AGES, and SHREK scheduled for 2012-2013. For a full list of upcoming events, including concerts, dance, comedy and family-friendly shows, click here.
To learn more about The Morris Performing Arts Center, visit http://www.morriscenter.org/
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Photos Credit: The Morris Performing Arts Center