Stage Directions March 2012 : Page 15

The view of the house from the stage in the Allen Theatre to $100 million. Around the same time, Cleveland Play House needed to find a new home as their theatre spaces were in real need of updating and the operating costs had skyrocketed. By bringing CSU and CPH into contact with PlayhouseSquare, WRL was able to create a program where the three entities could share a common set of theatres and contain costs. New Life for the Allen Theatre The Allen Theatre, with its proscenium stage, was con-ceived as a contemporary venue that is constructed within the historic shell of the original Allen with-out removing any of its historic façade. By using a unique perforated metal wall structure—referred to as the veil—and clever lighting, the audience can still enjoy the beauty of the original architecture yet be seated in an intimate theatre environment. The walls are lit so prior to the performance there is a mix of the contemporary and the historic. As the houselights fade down, the wall materials act as a scrim and the historic structure fades away. “With 3,000 seats, the Allen was a shoebox; basically a movie theatre, very long and narrow,” explains Westlake. “For years it was considered not to be viable, and was slated to be demolished.” It was renovated in 1998 to become a venue for Broadway touring shows but unfortunately the economics of touring changed and the theatre was only sporadi-cally used since. “The great outcome of the 1998 renovation was they built an entirely new stagehouse and infrastructure, and the audi-ence chamber was fully restored,” Westlake continues. “At first we started to put all three theatres inside the existing Allen space, but we felt that it was better to develop two of the spaces in new construction.” The renovated Allen mainstage theatre has been created entirely within the original lower orchestra level with the original balcony mothballed for future development. A new seating plan was developed for the • March 2012 15

Countryman Associates, Inc.

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