Tag Archives: gordon square arts district

The moment has come. Excuse us while we get emotional.

This view of our Nov. 27 groundbreaking ceremony graces the cover of our 2012 year-end appeal card. Photo by Gregory Wilson

“We Claim this Ground” ceremony at our theater site, Nov. 27, 2012. Photo by Gregory Wilson

Emotions. You’re not supposed to overdo them on stage or even “do” them at all, depending on your method. “You can’t act an emotion,” the saying goes. Acting is action: wanting something and doing something to get it. You’re supposed to find your character’s intention, be in your body, be alert, be in the moment, connect with the actors around you — and act, passionately! If emotion is present, that’s okay. Characters are people; people have emotions. But feelings are never the main thing you’re playing. You’ve got actions to take, a story to tell. So goes the wisdom.

Theater under construction a year ago, April 23, 2014. Photo by Hans Holznagel.

Theater under construction a year ago, April 23, 2014. Photo by Hans Holznagel.

Pardon us for a moment, then, while we get emotional. It’s tech week — always filled with all kinds of emotions! — but we need to say a word to mark this particular opening week, this once-in-a-lifetime moment Near West Theatre. We’ve been doing musical theater since 1978 as a way of building community and transforming lives — in rented space. We started searching for a home of our own in 1999, shortly after we became an independent nonprofit. And now — how do we say this with enough gravity and celebration? — IT’S HERE: Grand Opening Night! On Friday, April 24, in true, grand, Near West Theatre style, an affordable-price-paying audience will be seated in our brand new theater at 6702 Detroit Avenue in the Gordon Square Arts District. At 7:30, a cast of more than 60 children, teens and adults — ordinary people, all volunteers, from many races and backgrounds — will take the stage in Shrek the Musical. When that happens, well, forgive us if we shed a tear of joy. It won’t be the first time. We’ve been feeling it all winter and spring: on Feb. 13, when we got our certificate of occupancy and wandered around in awe of this roomy, comfortable, accessible space of our own; on Feb. 28, during our Community Open House; on March 14, with a Dance Party that filled the place with fun energy; on March 21, as we held our Annual Benefit and Gala in our own home for the first time ever; on March 22, as Move On!, a documentary about us, debuted in the Cleveland International Film Festival. Truth be told, we’ve also been getting a huge musical up all the while, so there hasn’t been a lot of time to get emotional.

Our new building as it appeared on April 14, 2015. Photo by Hans Holznagel

Our new building at sunrise on April 14, 2015. Photo by Hans Holznagel

Imagine, though, how it will feel this Friday to see an opening-night curtain go up for the first time in this new space. For those who’ve been on this journey the longest, we predict a weepy mix of nostalgia and hope: bittersweet memories of those no longer with us and how proud they would be. Giddiness as we reflect on the potential we face in a new building, in a new neighborhood, with partners new and old. Melting, weak-kneed being-in-love with the astounding variety of people who continue to create our art, individually and collectively, onstage and backstage: the hues of the faces, the shapes of the bodies, the timbres of the voices, and the humanity and commitment that all of them bring to the task. Breathlessness at the always-beautiful visual and aural art of our production staff, now amplified by fly space and new technical capacities.

Gratitude is perhaps the deepest among our emotions right now. Gratitude to the generous donors to the Gordon Square Arts District capital campaign, which built this building and so much more. Head-shaking amazement at the tireless leadership of Gordon Square’s Board and staff and the courageous, visionary toughness of our partners in that journey: Cleveland Public Theatre, the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, and Councilman Matt Zone. Memories, pleasant and otherwise, of the struggles we all faced together, even surviving a Great Recession in the middle of that campaign. Indebtedness to decades of sacrifice and support from Near West Theatre’s own Trustees and supporters, who now lead us into a continued future of musical theater that matters.

It is all about action, isn’t it? Thirty-seven years of action and intention. Wanting something, trying to get it, connecting with actors around you. Thank you for acting with us, all of you, longtime Near West Theatre family members and partners and newcomers alike. Wherever you are — behind the curtain, in the wings, in the audience — dab those tears and take a deep breath. “Places!” — Hans Holznagel

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"Shrek the Musical" production image 2015Opening night is now sold out, but plenty of tickets are available for the remaining performances of Shrek the Musical through May 17. Purchase online or call 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Any tickets not sold in advance are available at the door starting one hour before show time. A reserved Star Seat, which helps support Near West Theatre’s art and mission and comes with additional benefits, is $20. General admission is $10 for adults and $8 for children.

TH_Logo_rev_300dpiNear West Theatre is grateful to its 2015 Presenting Sponsor, Thompson Hine, and to many other generous season sponsors; for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares; for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.

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Come see our new theater this Sat., Feb. 28

communityopenhouseimagesmallBWe did it! We took occupancy of the new Near West Theatre in the Gordon Square Arts District, 6702 Detroit Ave., just over a week ago. We’ve been moving in ever since, and we’re still at it, but it’s time to throw the doors open. You’re invited to take a look inside and imagine the possibilities during a free Community Open House this Saturday, Feb. 28, from 1 to 5 p.m. There’ll be tours, refreshments, fun photo opportunities, a 3 p.m. ritual in the center of the space, and plenty of time to greet Stephanie Morrison Hrbek, Bob Navis Jr. and other friends, old and new. Come as you are and for whatever part of the afternoon you can. We’re still very much in “moving in” mode, and we’ll have a clearly marked path around the construction fence that’s still up because of continued work on the plaza and front sign. We want you, the NWT family and the wider community, to come inside and help invoke the spirit of past, present and future in this new space. For a complete list of this and other activities that will inaugurate our new home, visit the “Opening Events” page at our website.

GSAD_ParkingGet the most out of your visit to Near West Theatre: plan ahead! There’s free parking scattered around the neighborhood. We’re expecting a crowd, so share a ride and give yourself time to hunt for a spot. Public transit is also a good option. RTA buses stop at W. 65th and Detroit: Route 26 twice each hour on Saturdays, and Route 45 once an hour. Hardy winter bicyclists will find bike racks on Detroit Avenue.

This map shows lots and streets where you can park free (our theater is the blue square!). You can also use the parking lots at Neighborhood Family Practice, W. 65th and Franklin; or Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 6928 Detroit Ave. At Our Lady, please depart by 5 p.m. to make room for a 6 p.m. event.

Drop-offs: Here’s how you can help when dropping off passengers: (1) Choose one of two places named below; (2) get your riders ready before you arrive; (3) have them get out the right-hand (curb) side of your vehicle; and then (4) pull away promptly to avoid backups. The two drop-off locations are in front of Near West Lofts, 6710 Detroit Ave.; and West 67th Street, on the right-hand (east) curb, across from the theater, north of Detroit Avenue. NOTE: West 67th is a one-way street, northbound, and narrowed because of a construction fence that is still there so we’ll really need to work to keep traffic moving!

Enjoy the District: And, of course, we hope you’ll visit one or more of the many neighboring shops, restaurants, galleries and theaters. Say hello to them from their new neighbor, Near West Theatre!

Thank you to our 2015 Season Sponsors, whose generous support is making our Feb. 28 Community Open House and all our opening events possible. Our leading sponsors include the following. Presenting Sponsor: Thompson Hine. Patron: Consolidated Solutions. Producers: American Limousine, Char and Chuck Fowler, Majic Family Fund, PNC, Anonymous. Choreographers: KeyBank, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Panzica Construction Co. Actors: Calfee, Halter & Griswold L.L.P., Euro USA, FirstMerit Bank, Richard Fleischman + Partners Architects, Forest City Enterprises, Inc., Frantz Ward L.L.P., Donna and Stewart Kohl, Geoff and Jan Thrope.

Interested in sponsoring our season? It’s not too late, and there’s an attractive list of benefits that stretch across our opening events and performances. Contact Director of Development Joseph Castellano, jcastellano@nearwesttheatre.org, 216-961-9750.

 

Scenic artist Jenny HItmar Shankland leads a team installing the lobby mural. Photo by Hans Holznagel

Scenic Artist Jenny Hitmar Shankland is leading a team in installing the lobby mural that she and Designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski created. Photo by Hans Holznagel

— Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


Construction update: Video and pictures

A coating called "fluid applied air barrier" is being sprayed on this week over golden "dense board." They're they'll be followed by more layers of insulation before metal siding goes on. Photos by Hans Holznagel

A coating called “fluid applied air barrier” is being sprayed this week onto gold-colored “dense board.” They’ll be followed by more kinds of insulation before metal siding goes on this fall. Photos by Hans Holznagel

With cranes gone and steel beams no longer flying overhead, we’ve been able walk through our framed-in future home several times during these latter weeks of summer. With just over four months of basic construction to go, we’re now seeing three-dimensional spaces that in the past we could only visualize with drawings, models and lots of imagination. Filmmaker Ted Sikora, who has been shooting a piece about our art and mission since Move On! rehearsals, took a quick August tour with two guys who will spend long work hours in the new building once it’s done: Technical Director and Production Manager Josh Padgett and Stage Manager and Assistant Production Manager Ryan Wolf. Here’s the fun result. (By the way, actors and staff, that side door, with the ladder: it’ll be a real door with stairs when it’s done!)

Below are still photos of a few emerging features of the building that might help you envision what the theater will eventually look like, even with daylight currently streaming through places that will eventually be sealed up tightly for the sake energy efficiency and the beauty of theatrical lighting.

As for timing: We’re still planning on getting occupancy to the building in early January 2015, holding a series of “sneak preview, theater-in-progress” events and parties there from February through April (including our Annual Benefit on a Saturday in late February), and producing our grand-opening, main-stage musical in April and May. — Hans Holznagel

Donors Chuck and Char Fowler, Board President Jason Bristol, and staffers Stephanie Morrison Hrbek and Josh Padgett toured the auditorium Aug. 21.

Donors Chuck and Char Fowler, Board President Jason Bristol, and staffers Stephanie Morrison Hrbek and Josh Padgett toured the auditorium Aug. 21.

Jason Bristol, president of NWT Board of Trustees, and donors Char and Chuck Fowler pause of an upstage-center picture Aug. 21 on recently completed concrete.

Jason Bristol, president of NWT Board of Trustees, and donors Char and Chuck Fowler paused Aug. 21 for an upstage-center picture on recently completed concrete.

The back wall separating the auditorium from the lobby was becoming visible in this Aug. 25 photo.

The back wall separating the auditorium from the lobby was becoming visible in this Aug. 25 photo. Above it is the balcony.

A ramp from the house to the stage, seen here Aug. 21, is one of the features that will make us compliant -- and gladly so -- with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A ramp from the house to the stage, seen here Aug. 21, is one of the features that will make us compliant — and gladly so — with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One of two sets of stairs connecting lower level, lobby and balcony was being installed Aug. 20.

One of two sets of stairs connecting lower level, lobby and balcony was being installed Aug. 20.

The windows that will serve our lower-level refreshment counter were becoming visible on Aug. 20.

The windows that will serve our lower-level refreshment counter were becoming visible on Aug. 20.

On Aug. 25, only the northwest corner remained to be closed in with "dense board" insulation over the wood that surrounds the steel frame.

On Aug. 25, only the northwest corner remained to be closed in with “dense board” — the first layer of insulation — over the wood that surrounds the steel frame.

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Near West Theatre’s $7.3 million construction project is part of the cooperative Gordon Square Arts District capital campaign, which has raised nearly $30 million not only for the new NWT but also for the renovation of the now-reopened Capitol (film) Theatre, extensive physical improvements at Cleveland Public Theatre, districtwide streetscape improvements and parking. Near West Theatre is also grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


‘pARTy’ with NWT @ Gordon Square, Sat., June 14

pARTYlogoThe Near West Theatre outdoor stage returns this Saturday, just a few feet from the steel rising above the site of our new theater in the Gordon Square Arts District. Our stage on Detroit Avenue at West 67th Street will be among the featured music venues during the annual pARTy in Gordon Square festival on Saturday, June 14. Brief performances every half hour, from 2 p.m. until shortly before 6 p.m., will include a kids’ ensemble singing selections from Once On This Island Jr. and a half-dozen familiar NWT soloists sharing Broadway and other popular and original tunes, accompanied by pianist Jordan Cooper. In the past, when our site was not yet excavated, we had room under the NWT tent for a DJ, dancing and various activities, ranging from games to a cookout to kids’ crafts. This year — because we’re FINALLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION — we’ve got less space. But it’ll still be fun: a stage, a tent, some chairs, lots of great music, and a constant stream of “pARTy”-ers going by the space that will soon become a plaza in front of our new buidling. (Sorry, no Broadway karaoke with Bob Navis Jr. this year: we all have to get over to St. Pat’s for a 7:30 p.m. show!)

Singer Mariah Burks and accompanist Jordan Cooper, seen here in 2012, are among the performers returning to the NWT outdoor stage on June 14.

Singer Mariah Burks and accompanist Jordan Cooper, seen here in 2012, are among the performers returning to the NWT outdoor stage on June 14.

The fun throughout the Gordon Square Arts District starts in the morning in and around the Capitol Theatre, with cartoons, face painting aand shuttle rides to Cleveland’s East Side for Parade the Circle. It continues throughout the afternoon and evening with music, vendors and activities in several Gordon Square locations, especially at the main stage in Cleveland Public Theatre’s parking lot. Of course, you’re also encouraged to make your way over to Bridge Avenue and West 38th Street for Near West Theatre’s 7:30 performance of Move On!, as our farewell to the St. Patrick’s Club Building continues. Below is the Near West Theatre Stage lineup. Stop by and see us! — Hans Holznagel

 Near West Theatre Stage Schedule, Sat., June 14, 2014:

Song from Broadway and the great American songbook!

Time Performer(s)
2:00 to 2:15 Once On This Island Jr. ensemble
2:30 to 2:45 Mariah Burks
3:00 to 3:15 Once On This Island Jr. ensemble (repeat)
3:30 to 3:45 Eric Fancher
4:00 to 4:15 Trinidad Snider
4:30 to 4:45 Kevin Joseph Kelly
5:00 to 5:15 CoCo Smith
5:30 to 5:45 Mo Eutazia and Kelcie Dugger

Electrical work ending; theater construction near

We’re looking forward to a power outage in Near West Theatre’s business office this Sunday. It’s one more sign that our new theater will soon be under construction.

A Cleveland Public Power Crew works on existing cables on the west end of the Gordon Square Arcade Building on Oct. 17. Photos by Hans Holznagel

A Cleveland Public Power Crew works on existing cables on the west end of the Gordon Square Arcade Building on Oct. 17. More photos below. Photos by Hans Holznagel

The electrical supply to the Gordon Square Arcade building will be switched over that day from an old pole-mounted system to underground cables and brand-new, ground-mounted transformers that now sit behind the building. Then, after a few more days’ work by Cleveland Public Power crews, the old poles and overhead lines will finally be gone from the edge of our site, across West 67th Street from the Arcade building, clearing the way for construction preparation. The first signs of actual work on our site by Panzica Construction will be the appearance of a superintendent’s trailer. Fencing will start to surround the perimeter around Oct. 28. After a few more days of preparatory work, excavation will begin — the actual start of a construction process that will take 12 months, and possibly less.

We’re grateful to the office of Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and to Cleveland Public Power for funding the relocation of this power system. It’s an important economic and aesthetic contribution to this evolving neighborhood, and not just because it makes Near West Theatre’s future home possible. It removes a worrisome eyesore and updates the electrical infrastructure of the Gordon Square Arts District’s central building, home to many longtime residents, new businesses, movies at the Capitol Theatre and offices like ours. Going dark feels really good right now. — Hans Holznagel

New ground-mounted transformers, seen here Oct. 17, occupy the southwest corner of the parking lot north of the Gordon Square Arcade Building.

New ground-mounted transformers, seen here Oct. 17, occupy the southwest corner of the parking lot just north of the Gordon Square Arcade Building.

Apartments, businesses and the Capitol Theatre will benefit from these new electrical transformers, set to go live on Oct. 20.

Apartments, businesses and the Capitol Theatre will benefit from these new electrical transformers, set to go live on Oct. 20.

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares.


‘pARTy’ in our tent, Sat., June 8

Performances by Near West Theatre kids who are no longer kids — plus your chance at live Broadway karaoke — will be among the featured attractions on our stage at the pARTy in Gordon Square street festival Saturday, June 8, from 2 to 8 p.m.  Join us under the tent at West 67th Street and Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, for performances on the half-hour from 2 to 6 p.m. Then, from 6 to 8 p.m., have fun on stage (or just listening ) during Broadway Open Mike, led and accompanied by Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr.  Popcorn and NWT balloons will be available.  It’s all free!  (We’ll have a donation jar on hand to help cover the snacks and balloons.)

Our stage is part of a wider neighborhood bash that brings thousands of people to the Gordon Square Arts District the first Saturday each June for live entertainment, art exhibits, vendors, food trucks, a beer garden and the built-in fun that already exists: restaurants, pubs, the Capitol Theatre at West 65th and Detroit (for movies) and Cleveland Public Theatre, on Detroit just east of West 65th, where there’ll be another whole outdoor stage of fun.  pARTy in Gordon Square is deliberately held the same day as University Circle’s annual “Parade the Circle” on the East Side; shuttle transportation is available between the two.

Featured in the afternoon are performers who were children or teens when they first joined casts at Near West Theatre and have remained connected as adult volunteers, staff, supporters, etc.: Mariah Burks, Trinidad Snider, Mo Eutazia, Kelcie Dugger, Sarah Hess, Shekinah (CoCo) Smith, and Patrick Ciamacco, who will bring actors from his own Blank Canvas Theatre. Also joining us are Kevin Marr, who helped choreograph our recent production of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, and Ryann Angelotti, seen in our 2012 productions of Ragtime and Children of Eden. Jordan Cooper will accompany many of the acts on the keyboard. The NWT Stage schedule is below. Hope to see you there! — Hans Holznagel

Time segment Near West Theatre Stage Schedule, 6/8/13
2:00 to 2:20 Kevin Marr – Movement & dance. Watch or join in!
2:20 to 2:30 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
2:30 to 2:50 Mariah Burks – Broadway/popular songbook (Jordan Cooper, accompanist)
2:50 to 3:00 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
3:00 to 3:20 Trinidad Snider – Broadway/popular songbook (Jordan Cooper, accompanist)
3:20 to 3:30 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
3:30 to 3:50 Blank Canvas Theatre – Selections from recent Blank Canvas Theatre productions
3:50 to 4:00 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
4:00 to 4:20 Mo Eutazia and Kelcie Dugger – Guitar & vocals
4:20 to 4:30 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
4:30 to 4:50 Ryann Angelotti – Broadway/popular songbook (Jordan Cooper, accompanist)
4:50 to 5:00 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
5:00 to 5:20 Sarah Hess – Music and fun (Jordan Cooper, accompanist)
5:20 to 5:30 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
5:30 to 5:50 Shekinah (CoCo) SmithBroadway/popular songbook (Jordan Cooper, accompanist)
5:50 to 6:00 Dance break with DJ Karluis / stage transition
6:00 to 8:00 “Broadway Open Mike” with Bob Navis Jr. at the keyboard. Pick a song!
Stop by or stay a long time, as people did variously for our 2012 performances.

Stop by or stay a long time, as people did variously for our 2012 performances.

Our corner is near the center of street-festival action along Detroit Ave.

Our corner is near the center of street-festival action along Detroit Ave.

"Get up, stand up" during  DJ dance breaks between acts.

“Get up, stand up” during DJ dance breaks between acts.