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The Huntington to Reopen Newly Renovated and Restored Huntington Theatre to the Public Next Week

The Huntington to Reopen Newly Renovated and Restored Huntington Theatre to the Public Next Week

The Huntington will commemorate the reopening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, October 10 at 11am.

The Huntington has announced the reopening of The Huntington Theatre, its historic home on Huntington Avenue, following its transformational renovation to restore, renovate, and modernize the almost 100-year-old landmark. The Huntington will commemorate the reopening with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, October 10 at 11am, followed by a Community Open House from 12pm - 3pm with guided tours and special events as part of the Fenway Alliance Opening Our Doors Day festivities on Indigenous Peoples Day.

The Huntington has successfully completed phase one of its major construction project which included the restoration of the theatre building and the complete renovation of the adjoining service building which houses dressing rooms, a rehearsal room and event space (now named the Maso Studio), new and additional restrooms, a new elevator that serves all floors, and a new accessible-to-all entrance.

Prior to the reopening on October 10, The Huntington Theatre complex was closed to the public for 941 days since March 2020, first because of the pandemic, and then while conducting the extensive renovations that took approximately 20 months. The Huntington's Board of Trustees made the decision to accelerate the start of the planned renovation to take advantage of the forced closure during the pandemic, and despite global supply chain issues and construction challenges, the theatre reopens in fall 2022, on time as planned.

"We began this journey with a clear goal to save this gem of theatre, to return it to its former architectural glory, and to infuse it with new, modern systems and amenities so that we could broaden the scope of our artistic ambitions, and increase our services to artists, audiences, and the community," says Managing Director Michael Maso. "Now with these goals accomplished and the first phase of our renovation complete, we look forward to the joyful return of artists and audiences to breathe life into this magnificent facility in the heart of our city."

"Art is at the center of everything we do at The Huntington," says Artistic Director Loretta Greco, "and this beautiful, welcoming, and lovingly renovated flagship theater gives us the opportunity to deepen our relationships with loyal audiences while inspiring new partnerships throughout the city around the exciting work in development, on our stages, and in our classrooms. The reopening encapsulates our dedication to inspiring artists and staff to create their best and boldest work -- and our deep commitment to being a public trust, inviting and transformational for all."

Built in 1925 as the first not-for-profit playhouse in the US, the Huntington Theatre was acquired from developers QMG Huntington by the Huntington Theatre Company on a permanent basis in 2017, thanks to the assistance of the City of Boston once Boston University put the building up for sale in 2015.

The Huntington's goals for phase one of the theatre renovation emphasized the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of the architectural beauty of the original 1925 theatre, while also providing critical upgrades and modern comforts and amenities throughout the building. Additionally, priorities included accessibility throughout the complex from the universal design of the new entrance to the additional accessible seats, new elevator, and accessible orchestra pit, as well as sustainability throughout the design.

Phase two of the project will include 14,000 square feet of expanded lobby and public spaces and a permanent new entrance in the neighboring residential tower once it is complete (anticipated for late 2025/early 2026).

SCHEDULE FOR HUNTINGTON THEATRE REOPENING, OCTOBER 10, 2022

All are welcome for The Huntington's reopening of The Huntington Theatre including a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house, free and open to the public, including guided tours of the building, a discussion with Artistic Director Loretta Greco, and presentations from The Front Porch Arts Collective and The Huntington's education department.

RSVP at: huntingtontheatre.org/reopening

At the new entrance to The Huntington Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue:

11am Ribbon Cutting and photo op

In the Maso Studio, 2nd floor:

11:20am Reopening Ceremony and Remarks, featuring Artistic Director Loretta Greco, Managing Director Michael Maso, Board Chairman David Epstein, and honored guests including Mayor Michelle Wu and State Representative Jay Livingstone

12:15pm Performance and discussion: Reflections on Playwright August Wilson, featuring Regine Vital, Manager of Curriculum and Instruction, and student alumni of the August Wilson Monologue Competition and other Huntington education programs

1pm Discussion: Huntington Season Preview Talk with new Artistic Director Loretta Greco

and Director of New Work Charles Haugland

1:45pm The Front Porch Arts Collective Performance: Lovely Hoffman sings selections from Nina: The Voice of a Movement, the music of Nina Simone, accompanied by David Coleman, and remarks from The Front Porch Co-Artistic Directors Maurice Emmanuel Parent and Dawn M. Simmons

2:15pm Performance and discussion: Reflections on playwright August Wilson, featuring Regine Vital, Manager of Curriculum and Instruction, and student alumni of the August Wilson Monologue Competition and other Huntington education programs (continuation of 12:15pm panel)

Open House from 12pm - 3pm:

12pm - 3pm Guided tours led by Huntington staff, starting from the 1st floor theatre lobby (tour is

approximately 20-30 minutes)

Meet-your-seat: Huntington donors and supporters have the opportunity to see their

named seat, hosted by Huntington development staff

Huntington Theatre Box Office open

HUNTINGTON THEATRE RENOVATION HIGHLIGHTS:

The theatre has been meticulously restored with new theatre seating, improved sightlines, and new acoustic systems which will ensure a high quality and comfortable audience experience.
The historic lobby is renamed the August Wilson Lobby in honor of The Huntington's longstanding relationship with the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (to be dedicated on the opening night of Joe Turner's Come and Gone, October 19, 2022).
The theatre has been painted a dark, rich Narragansett Green, and the dome of the theatre has been painted gold, reflective of the original 1925 design. The original woodwork has been carefully restored to its rich stained finish.

New seats in the theatre have more legroom and greater width, and there are additional accessible seats both on the 1st and 2nd floors

The new configuration has 739 brand new seats (currently 698 for August Wilson's Joe Turner's Come and Gone as the set extends past the proscenium; previously the theatre had 890 seats)

There are several rows of continental seating (continuous rows across the theatre) at the front of the orchestra and mezzanine

The tomato red seats were created by Kotobuki Seating and are 19-22 inches wide with 15-22 inches of legroom (depending on location); the fabric is wool and acrylic blend plain weave

The increased legroom in the seats will make it easier for patrons to move past those already seated without their having to get up

A new entrance with universal design so that everyone entering the building, no matter where they are headed and what their abilities are, enters through the same doors and up the accessible ramp (even the scenery will load in using this entrance)
Entrance has a vaulted arcade ceiling as homage to the original 1925 design of the building with decorative capitals repurposed from the building's original columns
Two of the flying battens that were once above the stage were repurposed in the entrance arcade in order to protect the new walls

Increased accessibility throughout the building, including a brand-new elevator (making the 2nd floor accessible for the first time in the building's history), an accessible orchestra pit with a ramp entrance, an automated sound booth that can accommodate various needs, an accessible lift to the mezzanine level, and additional accessible seating throughout the theatre

A new arcade on the second level, providing a gallery and convening space that connects the historic theatre and the new 2nd floor lobby space
This was "found" space, created by enclosing what used to be the outdoor fire escape
The artwork of Boston artist Ekua Holmes will be on display in the gallery during Joe Turner's Come and Gone

The 2nd floor rehearsal hall and event space is named the Michael Maso Studio in honor of 40 years of leadership by Managing Director Michael Maso. Originally built as a ballroom in 1925, the wood paneling has now been refurbished and beautiful windows that were long bricked and boarded up while the space was a black box theatre, have been revealed to let in natural light.

Thorough restoration of the 45 historic lighting fixtures original to the 1925 building, including the chandeliers and vintage star fixtures, in the theatre and lobby; all lighting in the building uses high performance LEDs (and the lighting is bright enough that patrons can now read their programs!)

Brand new, all-gender restrooms will serve all theatregoers in an equitable, inclusive, and dignified way

There are 38 new toilets, including 29 available for the public (notably, the theatre previously had only 9 toilets in the public restrooms available to women, and now all theatregoers will have equal access to 29!).

25 toilets have Tooshlights, indicator lights to direct patrons to available stalls which will minimize lines and improve patrons' experience
Private single use toilet rooms with changing tables are available on both levels of the theatre

Major upgrades to all systems, including HVAC and sprinkler systems and electrical wiring, and full upgrades and modernization of all staff, crew, and artist support spaces to better aid our personnel and serve our productions

The renovation project will use key elements of sustainable design, moving towards the city of Boston's goal of carbon neutrality by 2050: there is a significant savings of embodied carbon by reusing the existing structures; improvements to the efficiency of building systems, as well as new windows and better insulation, will reduce energy use by up to 70%; 80% of the energy used in the building will come from electrified systems; new plumbing fixtures and systems will reduce water use by up to 30%; building materials are non-toxic with low volatile organic compounds (VOC); and low-touch and non-touch hardware have been used whenever possible

A new fully automated and programmable fly-rigging system will replace the antiquated manual counterweight system for flying in scenery and the curtain, improving both safety and efficiency for Huntington run crew staff (the installation of the new rigging system is scheduled for later this fall due to the global chip shortage)

The principal architect of the Huntington Theatre project is Jason Forney of Bruner/Cott Architects, working alongside Nurit Zuker, Karen Greene, and Rima Abouseleiman. The construction manager for the project is Shawmut Design and Construction, led by project executive David Lyskowski. Jeff Ganem of Leggat McCall Properties is the project manager, and for The Huntington, Kat Herzig is the Huntington Theatre Manager and Adam Godbout is the Huntington Technical Director.

Additional services have been provided by Auerbach Pollock Friedlander theatre design consultants, Jaffe Holden acoustical consultants, Silman Associates structural engineers, Altieri Sebor Wieber MEP/FP engineers, Building Conservation Associates historic preservation, Nitsch Engineering civil engineers, Jensen Hughes code consultant, Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting architectural lighting, Kalin Associates specifications, and Selbert Perkins Design signage design.

The $127 million comprehensive Campaign for The New Huntington includes $71 million for the anticipated costs of construction ($58 million for phase one, including the historic theatre renovation, the initial enabling project, and relocation of The Huntington Production Center and administrative offices, and $13 million is projected for phase 2 respectively); the remaining balance supports growth in operations during the campaign period and increases to endowment and reserve funds to safeguard the company's future.

CAMPAIGN PROGRESS

Led by Campaign Chair Ann Merrifield and Vice Chair and outgoing Huntington Board President Sharon Malt, the Huntington's campaign The Campaign for The New Huntington: A Storied Venue with a Bold Vision has made tremendous progress, already reaching approximately 80% of a comprehensive goal of $127 million (which includes annual fund giving for the first five years of the campaign and funds to increase the theatre's endowment and reserves).

The Huntington Theatre retains its name thanks to the remarkable generosity of Huntington Trustee and outgoing Board Chairman David Epstein and Trustee Betsy Epstein who committed $9 million as a "non-naming" leadership gift, ensuring that the name of "Huntington" will endure.

In addition to the generosity of the Huntington's Board of Trustees and Advisors, the campaign has widespread support from individual, foundation, government, and corporate funders throughout Greater Boston. Loan financing was provided by Eastern Bank with the assistance of Elizabeth Jick and Susan Winshall of Zions Bank Public Finance. The Huntington has also secured federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit financing and a New Markets Tax Credit allocation via the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC), and Massachusetts Historic Tax Credits through the Massachusetts Historic Commission, with the assistance of David Ennis and David Scheltz of Affirmative Investments Inc. Additional assistance was provided by Albert Rex and Mary Nastasi of MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC, Daniel Kolodner and Kathryn Day of Klein Hornig LLP, and Stephanie Massey and David Rodgers of Locke Lord LLP.

ABOUT THE BUILDING

Constructed in 1925 and designed by Boston architects J. Williams Beal and Sons, this historic theatre was built by actor and impresario Henry Jewett as the Repertory Theatre of Boston and was called "America's first civic playhouse" for being the first not-for-profit theatre in the US. Jewett wanted to establish his theatre near the revered Symphony Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts on Huntington Avenue, now known as the Avenue of the Arts. Boston University purchased the theatre in 1955, then founded the Huntington Theatre Company as its resident in 1982 (the Huntington became independent of BU in 1986). When the theatre complex was put up for sale in 2015 and The Huntington Theatre's future was uncertain, advocacy from then Mayor of Boston Martin J. Walsh and the City of Boston, along with the good will and openness of the theatre's buyers, QMG Huntington now partnered with Toll Brothers, allowed the Huntington Theatre Company to secure permanent ownership of the building for generations to come.

HUNTINGTON THEATRE BY THE NUMBERS AND FUN FACTS:

Venue size:

52,000 square feet for the entire complex
31,880 square feet for the theatre building
7,960 square feet for the theatre itself

Construction details:

2,600 feet of pilons
500,000 feet of electrical cable (that's 95 miles!)
240 dumpsters used during the project
217,240 hours spent on construction work

Lighting fixtures:

45 antique lighting fixtures (original to the 1925 theatre) restored and reconfigured, including chandeliers and star lights which now have brighter bulbs (making it easier to read the program!)
High-performance LEDs used for all lighting throughout the complex

New colors throughout the complex:

Paint color throughout building: Chantilly Lace (Benjamin Moore)
Paint color in theatre: Narragansett Green and Dark Pewter (Benjamin Moore)
Paint color for gold dome in theatre: Benjamin Moore Latex Metallic Gold
Countertop color throughout the building: Rain Cloud (Corian)

Fun facts:

The Huntington Theatre was originally built in 1925 as America's civic playhouse, the first not-for-profit theatre building in the US, spearheaded by impresario Henry Jewett, founder of the Repertory Theatre of Boston
Henry Jewett's portrait spent 24 months in storage (with a ghost light made especially for him!) before returning to his traditional spot in the lobby
There are 11 dressing rooms to accommodate up to 40 artists
Huntington artisans on staff created the new concessions bars and other pieces throughout the theatre
Between the pandemic and the renovation, the Huntington Theatre was closed to the public for 941 days (or 30 months/2.5 years) before reopening on October 10, 2022

Notable names:

The Huntington Theatre retains its name in perpetuity thanks to the remarkable generosity of Huntington Chairman David Epstein and Trustee Betsy Epstein
August Wilson Lobby: The renovated lobby is named after legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson in honor of his legacy to the American theatre and his longstanding collaboration with The Huntington
Maso Studio: The rehearsal and event space on the 2nd floor is named after Managing Director Michael Maso in honor of his extraordinary 40-year tenure of inspiring leadership and stewardship of The Huntington (capacity of 100-226 seats depending on set-up, and 350 standing)



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