Center Stage

WVIZ showed a good program last night about the saving and renovation of Playhouse Square.  The program, called “Staging Success”, featured the dreamers and movers that made Playhouse Square a reality.

To me, Playhouse Square has always been there.  It’s hard to imagine a time when it was in danger of being turned into a parking lot.  As prominent as Playhouse Square is in the fabric of Cleveland, the program opened my eyes to what allowed this gem to become reality.

Imagine if we didn’t have those theatres, the second largest theatre complex in the United States.  $43 million per year that the city would lose, as reported by the program.  Imagine the gaping hole on Euclid Avenue between 14th and 17th.

It’s sad to think.  Not only the money and reputation, but the culture and art that would have never been.

Lucky for us, Ray Shepardson saw in those rundown movie houses what could be.  He found others that supported his vision, and the dream got legs.  Cleveland is much better for it.

This story gives us lessons we can still use.  First, the power a small group can have to pump life back into Cleveland.

Second, how something as simple as a theatre can be the catalyst to rejuvenate an entire neighborhood, along with the means to go about doing that.

Peter van Dijk, the architect in charge of the theatres’ redesign, worked with those at the Playhouse to envision a new neighborhood to surround the theatres.  From that idea, we now have that vibrant area along Euclid Avenue.

“Staging Success” will be shown again tonight at 9 p.m. on WVIZ.

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