Children's Theatre of Cincinnati Stages Return to Historic Emery Theatre

By 2025, the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati will return to the Emery Theatre for the first time since 1969.

Mar 29, 2023 at 2:37 pm
click to enlarge A rendering of the historic Emery Theatre as the home of the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati. - Rendering provided by the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati
Rendering provided by the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati
A rendering of the historic Emery Theatre as the home of the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati.

Over-the-Rhine’s historic Emery Theatre opened at 1112 Walnut Street in 1911, an acoustically excellent performance hall for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. For years, until 1969, it also served as the home of the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT), America’s oldest professional theater serving young audiences, now in its 103rd season with attendance regularly topping 100,000.

By 2025, TCT will return to the Emery, which has been virtually unused for two decades. At a news conference on Wednesday, March 29, plans were announced to purchase, restore and reimagine the theater that will become TCT’s principal performance venue in early 2025. Using professional actors and designers, TCT’s vision is to awaken a lifelong love of theater in children.

After more than 50 years at downtown’s Taft Theatre, TCT will adventurously reimagine the Emery. The company will be able to expand its annual production schedule beyond the 40 days currently available at the Taft Theatre, enabling expanded programming and the production of more original works for diverse audiences.

To address the limitations of backstage and wing space, TCT will employ modern theater technology, including stage lifts, state-of-the-art video and projection mapping (familiar to BLINK fans) to enliven the audience experience. The intention is to expand imagery and lighting beyond the stage to make the entire auditorium an immersive theater experience. The theater’s tiny lobby will also be expanded.

The total project expense will be nearly $50 million. $29 million is already in hand. Another $10 million in tax credits is anticipated. A public campaign is underway to obtain the balance.

On April 29, from noon-4 p.m., TCT will host a block party on Walnut Street between Central Parkway and 12 Street to give families a chance to check out what’s coming.

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