Monday, December 3, 2012


New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre has long been touted for its outstanding regional theater productions, but  if you've enjoyed the pleasure of the work you probably haven't enjoyed the total experience.  A definite lack of knee and leg room interfered with your comfort.

Fear no more.  Long Wharf Theatre has just completed a major renovation to its Main Stage, which will now be known as the Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre.  The Tow Foundation, endowed by Len, Claire and daughter Emily, created a challenge grant of $1,250,000 to start the almost $4,000,000 project.  According to Charles Kingsley, chairman of the board, "the physical discomfort of the audience has been cured once and for all."  He has been attending excellent theater at Long Wharf since he saw Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" back in 1965.

Gorden Edelstein, who has been the Artistic Director for a decade, boasted that the renovations were a team effort, coming in "on time and on budget and looking good."  As soon as you walk in the large glass doors, you will be greeted by an expanded lobby area with a bar, a larger green room and dressing rooms for the actors, a new lighting grid, advanced heating and air conditioning systems and a larger woman's restroom.  Mr. Edelstein remarked at the press opening that "It takes a village...all the people involved created a supportive community.  The donations from $10 to multiple thousands were incredibly moving to me."

To Len Tow, the donor who set the project in motion. "Long Wharf is the pinnacle of regional theater."  His attachment goes back thirty years and he is very proud to be intimately involved in the theater  He joked that he wants to play a leading role in the upcoming version of "Hamlet."  Tow called Long Wharf "an island of creativity next to a meat market of chops and steaks...the realization of a dream."

That theme, of its unlikely location, was continued by Mary Pepe, the chair of the facilities committee since 2003. "Long Wharf has left a lasting impression on me since the first day I walked in as a high school student in 1965."  She reflected on its "quirky charm" and incredible history.

If you would like to make a donation to the renovation, please call 203-787-4282, or Eileen Wiseman, Director of Development at 203-772-8237, or visit online at  You can name a seat, a comfortable grey suede one, for $1500, $2500 or $5000 but donations of any amount are most welcome.

A formal celebration will take place at the opening of "The Killing of Sister George," a play directed by and starring Kathleen Turner on Wednesday, December 5.  This classic farce, which plays until December 23, will showcase Ms. Turner as a British radio star who is as different as day from night once she is off the air.  She is a nun tending the poor and sick on the radio by day and a hard living, cigar chewing, gin swilling tart by night.

Come see the new improved Long Wharf Theatre for yourself, soon and often.

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