Emerson College strikes deal to reopen Colonial Theatre

The Boston Globe | By Malcolm Gay
January 9, 2017

The London-based Ambassador Theatre Group has been chosen to operate Emerson College’s celebrated Colonial Theatre in a deal, announced Sunday evening, that is expected to breathe new life into Boston’s Theatre District.

The Colonial, which has been dark for more than a year, will benefit from the considerable reach and resources of the Ambassador group, one of the largest international producers of live theater. In addition to signing a 40-year lease, both parties will make substantial capital improvements to the 117-year-old Colonial, and the Ambassador group will explore making the venue available to local performing arts groups.

“It’s a game-changer,” said Lee Pelton, Emerson’s president. “Bringing ATG to Boston as a partner with Emerson is the theater’s version of bringing GE to our city.”

The company expects to open its inaugural season at the Colonial in January 2018.

Mark Cornell, chief executive for the Ambassador group, called the agreement “a strategic and hugely important initiative” for the company, which now operates 46 venues across three continents, including two on Broadway. The company is known for coproducing shows on Broadway and in the United Kingdom as well as touring productions.

“America is key to our future and our success, and in my view there is not a better place to start than a long lease in Boston,” Cornell said by phone from London. “We couldn’t be more excited to be in such a cultured and interesting city.”

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