As we kick off the new season, we're broadcasting from the newly renovated Hanna Theater in Playhouse Square, now home to the Great Lakes Theater Festival.
The Hanna opened its doors in 1921, dedicated to the memory of Senator Marcus Hanna of Cleveland, the one-time owner of the Euclid Avenue Opera House. With its opulent decor and 1,500 seat capacity, the Hanna quickly became the home away from home for many Broadway tours. It played host to the likes of Henry Fonda, Noel Coward, Helen Hayes, and the husband and wife team of Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. During its first 6 decades of operation, the Hanna grew in stature, becoming a place to try out plays before they headed to Broadway.
The Hanna sadly closed its doors in 1988, when touring shows moved into the restored Palace and State Theaters. In 1999, the Hanna was purchased by the Playhouse Square Foundation, and a new restoration of the building began last year. Today's Hanna holds fewer people than the 1921 building, making way for a host of new technology and amenities. And now, it's getting the spotlight as one of the most unique theaters in the country.
Along with the building's new look comes a new resident theater company, the 46-year-old Great Lakes Theater Festival. GLTF first moved to Playhouse Square in 1962, mounting its productions in the Ohio Theater. Great Lakes led the charge to renovate the Hanna into a permanent home, and at the helm of that effort was Great Lakes Theater Festival Artistic Director Charlie Fee. He'll join host Dee Perry in the lobby of his company's new home.
Founded in 1921, the Hanna Theater served as a mecca for live stage productions, becoming one of the premier theatre houses in the country, until its closing in 1988. With its 1,500 seat capacity and elegant appointments, the Hanna Theater and the Playhouse Square district once rivaled the bright lights of Broadway. We'll have a closer look at the history of the Hanna.
It's a well known fact that theater folks are a suspicious lot. Case in point - when the curtain goes up on the premier season of the Great Lakes Theater Festival at the Hanna Theatre, it won't be with actor Andrew May, scheduled to play the title role. May has been sidelined with a back injury that might have happened after someone tempted fate by calling out the name of Shakespeare's famous play M... A... C... B... E... T... H... while inside the Hanna. To get the chilling facts on this and other unexplained theatrical phenomena, we turned to the experts at Cleveland Haunted Tours.
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