The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1610  Wednesday, 30 August 2000.

From:           Mike LoMonico <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Aug 2000 14:16:36 -0400
Subject: 11.1604 Stratford, Connecticut
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1604 Stratford, Connecticut

In regard to the Stratford, CT Shakespeare Theater, we in the northeast
miss the lovely setting and hope they succeed.

Here is an excerpt from their website: http://www.stratfordfestival.com/

The doors of what was then called the American Festival Theater opened
in 1955. Luminaries of stage and screen performed here, establishing a
legacy that survives to this day. For 30 years the theater maintained a
reputation for excellence throughout the theatrical world, but changes
in the industry caused the doors to close and the theater to remain dark
for nearly 10 years.

In March 1998 negotiations were completed to allow us to acquire and
reopen the Connecticut Stratford Shakespeare Festival Theater. Now that
safety and building regulations and required renovations have been made,
we are once again able to invite the public to join us.

Stratford Festival Theater Inc., the new non-profit organization, is
currently planning our grand reopening in the spring of 2000. This
inaugural season will set into motion our plans for a new, larger and
even more impressive theatrical complex. Inspired by the vision of our
Founder and Artistic Director, Louis Burke, the future development
includes several theaters, the Academy, a museum, and a library.

The theater's Spring 2000 opening, however, didn't happen.  Here's the
latest news:


Shakespeare theater won`t open in time Tuesday,

By KATE RAMUNNI This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

STRATFORD July 25, 2000

The curtain won't be rising as planned this month on the Shakespeare
theater's inaugural season. But officials are optimistic it won't be
long before the first production hits the stage. Because of financial
difficulties, "we are in a holding pattern," said Bill Martin, Stratford
Festival Theater director of marketing and public relations. "We're
working diligently to secure additional funding," he said. The delay is
the latest of several over the past few years as the nonprofit theater
struggles for funding to mount its first production. The postponement
comes less than two months after the theater unveiled an ambitious
four-play schedule for this year. The good news is SFT now officially
owns the Elm Street theater, Martin said. Last month, ownership changed
hands from the state to the nonprofit organization, he said. Earlier
this year, the General Assembly approved a bill, spearheaded by state
Sen. George "Doc" Gunther, R-Stratford, which in effect gave the theater
to the organization for only the administrative costs involved in
closing the deal. Originally, the state was to sell the building to SFT
for $1.5 million, but eliminated that cost in an effort to help the
fledgling theater group get off the ground. Gunther is out of the state
this week and could not be reached for comment on the delay in opening.
The state took over ownership of the theater, which first opened in
1955, after financial troubles closed it in 1989. In the mid-1990s, SFT
was chosen to resurrect the theater, but for more than a decade the
stage has been dark because of funding problems. But Martin said theater
officials are optimistic the wait won't be long. "It's hard to say at
this particular moment" when the first show will open, "but we are
hoping to get something going for this fall," Martin said. About
two-thirds of the work that needs to be done in order to reopen was
completed before the financial problems brought everything to a
standstill, Martin said. The financial problems are with private donors,
not the state, he said. "We're making a concerted effort to resolve the
gap in funding," he said, declining to go into detail about how much
funding is needed. Work at the theater would resume immediately after
additional financial backing is in place, he said. Last month, theater
officials announced four productions to be staged this year: "The
Tempest" and "Twelfth Night," by William Shakespeare, "You Can't Take It
With You," by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, and "The Pirated
Penzance," based on the operetta "The Pirates of Penzance" by W.S.
Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. The first production was to be staged this
month, with the others running through December. Martin said he hopes to
have at least one set for the fall. A box office recording advises
theatergoers to check back often for information about when tickets will
be available. And theater officials are hoping to be ready for the
Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra, which is set to perform the first in a
series of five concerts at the theater beginning in October. For ticket
information, call the Stratford Festival Theater box office, located at
1850 Elm St., at 381-1600. Kate Ramunni, who covers Stratford, may be
reached at 330-6361

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