Emery Theater to become new home of Children’s Theater of Cincinnati

Emery Theater to become new home of Children’s Theater of Cincinnati
Published: Nov. 21, 2023 at 2:06 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 25, 2023 at 11:37 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A redevelopment project will soon usher in new life for a historic Cincinnati building.

The Emery Theater will become the new home of the Children’s Theater of Cincinnati.

The Children’s Theater of Cincinnati sees the Emery Theater as a perfect place to spark a lifelong love of the arts.

“Why I do what I do, and why I come into work every day - we are building the next generation of arts patrons, arts lovers, the artists,” explained Children’s Theater Artistic Director Roderick Justice. “So, I think this expansion is going to bring a whole new generation of people who love the arts. Getting them in early as possible to ignite that lifelong love of theater.”

Emery Theater went dark in December 1999 and was largely neglected.

The way it looks today obscures its glorious past.

It was finished in 1911 and is located inside the Ohio Mechanics Institute in Over-The-Rhine, which now houses a coffee shop downstairs and apartments upstairs.

The institute went to philanthropist Mary Emery to fund the construction of the building, and she insisted it housed a world-class theater.

The Children’s Theater’s return to the Emery is kind of a homecoming.

It mounted shows here from 1949 to 1969, but actors in the Children’s Theater have been taking the stage for more than 100 years.

“Right now, we have several alumni on Broadway,” said Justice. “Someone who’s in Six on Broadway, we have someone who is in Wicked, we have someone who is in Aladdin, we have someone who is in the Book of Morman. There are many people who are on Broadway doing what they did here in Cincinnati.”

The acoustics of the Emery were designed by world-renowned conductor Leopold Stokowski who was the director of the Cincinnati Symphony at the time.

Only four theaters in the country were considered acoustically perfect, and the Emery is among them, along with Carnegie Hall in New York City.

In addition to what theatergoers heard, what they saw was perfect too.

Every seat had an unobstructed view of the stage because there were not any vertical pillars.

The two massive balconies were supported by steel beams.

One was 90 feet long and weighed 33 tons, which made it the largest steel beam in the city at the time.

“We are the buzz of the theater construction world right now because we are doing something truly innovative by not only renovating this space but reimagining it,” said Justice.

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