Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Boston Theater is Going... Going....?

The history of Boston theatre always includes references to the Wilbur Theatre, but soon the Wilbur could be an office space or condos or who knows what.

The Boston Globe has an article about the uncertain fate of this old "gem," which is currently up for sale. Combined with the recent articles about the Wang, (including Thomas Garvey's discussion of the Wang's possible future,) this could spell the official end of that two block area's claim to being the "Theatre District."

At right is a recent projected vision of that Wilbur corner in development, complete with Times Square type billboards. Funny thing is that now with the Wilbur going, and the Wang dark most of the year, it is going to be a lot of neon for fewer people.

The Wilbur was the site of Boston tryouts of many famous plays, Streetcar Named Desire being only one of them.

In just the past ten years I have indelible memories of certain moments in the following shows: Faye Dunaway in Master Class, Simon Russel Beale's Hamlet, Nicholas Martin's Observe the Sons of Ulster, Marching Towards the Somme, Rebecca Hall in As You Like It.

You'll notice in the list above, there aren't many musicals mentioned, and that could be a contributing factor to the theater's fate in our new high- wattage, musical landscape.

Catherine Peterson, executive director of ArtsBoston, a performing arts service group, said it's unlikely the Wilbur will continue as a theater. "It's a near-perfect playhouse for the spoken word, just a gem," she said. "But the days when plays toured the country with their original stars are gone."

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