The historic Robert S. Marx Theatre in Eden Park will be demolished following the Playhouse in the Park's 2018-2019 season, as part of an optimistic revisioning that will celebrate the theater's 50th birthday and help the venue better cater to modern audiences.
“The theater was built at a time when there was less technology and the goal was to use as little scenery as possible,” says Playhouse artistic director Blake Robison. “Theater has changed a lot over the last 50 years.”
Currently, the only way to move props on and off stage is through the floor via elevator systems. Compared to many modern theaters, this is highly limiting and can be a hindrance to those accustomed to more versatile theaters that offer clearance for large scenery and props to be navigated from all directions.
“At the time it was built, there was a very minimalist approach, but I think dramaturgy has changed since then and audience expectations have certainly changed,” Robison says. “One of the things that I think Playhouse is known for is its beautiful sets and costumes. You always walk into our theater and experience the surprise of what it’s going to look like next time. So, we want to stay ahead of the eight ball and make sure that we’re bringing Cincinnati the widest variety of plays and musicals that we can. We feel strongly that we need that upgrade in order to keep up with the times.”
While no specific location has been finalized, the Playhouse ensemble will continue to perform during demolition and construction. It’s estimated the construction will displace the troupe for only one season.
“This facility in Eden Park has been so meaningful to people," Robison says. "We want to reassure people the Playhouse is staying in the park where it belongs, but we need to upgrade our home. We’re leaving the shelterhouse completely as-is, except that we’re going to put in more comfortable seats. I guess you could say that in there it’s going from economy to business class.”
The Marx Theatre at Playhouse in the Park recently premiered Jane Eyre, which runs until April 8