Boston’s Colonial Theatre To Shutter
The college, which owns the historic theatre, has said it will remain closed for at least year, but officials haven’t offered many clues as to what will become of it after its lease “All options are on the table, Andy Tiedemann, Emerson College VP of communications, told the Boston Globe. “Whatever direction we end up going, any option will make sure that the space can be used for performances. … That’s not to say it will be used in that way, but the stage will be preserved.”
Tiedemann muddied the waters further by telling the Globe “We are looking at various uses for the theatre, including operating it as a theatre, but that also suggests other options, of not continuing to operate it as a theatre.”
He at least assured the paper the Colonial Theatre wouldn’t be converted into student housing. The Colonial, one of Boston’s oldest theatres, opened in 1900 and was last renovated in the 1990s, according to the Globe.
Emerson College purchased the theatre in 2006 and most recently leased it for three years to Citi Performing Arts Center in 2012. It is in need of millions of dollars in repairs, Tiedemann told the paper, adding that the college has been considering “repurposing” the Colonial for at least the last two years.
“We knew we had to take a step back, Tiedemann told the Globe. “We know the building needs renovation, and we couldn’t renew a lease without doing the renovations. T
he building’s air conditioning and heating system is well beyond its useful life.” Emerson College, exclusively a communications and performing arts college, also owns the Cutler Majestic Theatre and the Paramount Center in downtown Boston, and has a production arm, ArtsEmerson.
Tiedemann told the Globe the college has invested $500 million on property acquisition and renovations in the city’s Theatre District. The Colonial Theatre competes not only with those spaces, but other venerable Boston theatres including Boston Opera House, Citi Wang Theatre, and Citi Shubert Theatre, as well Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts.
College officials acknowledged that commercial theatre has been less active in the market in recent years, and is a factor in deciding whether to keep the Colonial as a performing arts space.