Arts Desk

New Management Comes to National Theatre

Back in November, City Paper's Lydia DePillis asked, "Can the National Theatre finally come back to life?" For years, the elegant theater with the prime downtown location has been curiously underused, usually only opening its doors for the occasional touring Broadway show. But today, the National Theatre announced it's got two new managers: JAM Theatricals, Ltd., out of Chicago, and Philadelphia company SMG.

In a press release, the Trustees of the National Theatre Corporation say the new partnership will handle promotion, booking, and venue operations, with the goal of "expand[ing] the presentations at the historic National Theatre to include an annual Broadway series, concerts, leading classical artists and other attractions."

National Theatre, which opened in 1835, was previously operated by the Shubert Organization, which owns numerous Broadway theaters and two others in Boston and Philadelphia. The organization's 30-year contract expired this month. Last year, Tom Lee, the theater's executive director, said he was eager to bring a new operator into the fold. "[Shubert] will tell you, 'We book Broadway productions, and we promote first class Broadway productions,'" he told DePillis last November. "That's what they're known for, that's what they do, and they have not moved into other areas. But they are becoming aware, if they can't find a way to make it occupied 30 weeks out of the year, that we have to find other ways to give this theater to the community.”

In today's release, Lee says, “I am personally delighted over the prospect of bringing a broad variety of artists and attractions to the National Theatre stage.”

The National Theatre has one major show on its schedule this season: a 25th-anniversary production of Les Misérables, opening for two-and-a-half weeks on Dec. 12.

Photo by Lydia DePillis

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