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The Hanover Theatre and the Worcester Community

By Kristen Bosse

For years now, the Hanover Theatre has had a great impact on the Worcester community. It all began eight years ago when two local businessmen noticed the large, vacant Poli Palace Theater in Federal Square. Seeing great potential in what others may have deemed a useless building, Ed Madaus and Paul Demoga founded the Worcester Center for the Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the old building and bringing culture to the city. There was significant research done on its potential economic impact on not just Worcester, but the surrounding communities as well.

The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts

In addition to providing world-class productions of Broadway tours, international music sensations, comedians and popular entertainment options to the residents of central Massachusetts, its performances also draw visitors from all over New England and areas of New York. Although the restoration project cost upwards of 31 million dollars, the finished project includes new elevators, state-of-the-art lighting and sound system, and an overall better experience for the performers and the audience.

Recently the theatre took another step towards a larger presence in the Worcester community, purchasing the building adjacent to the theatre, 551 Main Street. The purchase cost a total of 1.1 million dollars, and will include offices, studios, meeting space and a restaurant. Theater President and Chief Executive, Troy R. Siebels, said the theater has more demand for meetings and children's programs than it can meet. He also hopes the restaurant at the 22,000-square-foot building will give customers a better experience when attending shows.

The main mission of the Hanover Theatre is to foster a love and appreciation for the performing arts in audiences of today and tomorrow. Perhaps the best example of how they do this is with their "Adopt-a-School Program" collaboration with South High Community School. In each program, a live performance at The Hanover Theatre caps a two-week curriculum where every student in every class engages in learning based on the themes of a select Broadway musical. Theatre staff works closely with teachers, students and administrators as students explore the historical, sociological and artistic aspects of a Broadway show, integrating them into every subject. At the end of the two weeks, students, teachers and administrators attend a Broadway performance, together as a school. Their most recent collaboration was with the musical "Memphis", which can be seen below.

Maureen Binienda, principal of South High, stated what she thinks of this new program.
"In my career of 38 years there are moments I remember that make me smile; Memphis' Adopt-A-School Program will be something I will remember as reaching deep into my soul-it had a powerful effect on both staff and students who participated in the program."

When asked if the remainder of the Worcester Community was supportive of the Hanover Theatre mission, Lisa Condit (Director of Marketing & PR), claimed that the renovation of the theatre and the purchase of the building next door would not have been possible without the support of their residents. The theatre is first and foremost a nonprofit organization, so only two dollars out of every fifty-dollar ticket sale actually goes back into the preservation of the theatre. This means that they rely on the generosity of corporate sponsors, private donations, etc. to drive their mission. With continued help from the town of Worcester, the Hanover Theatre is sure to stick around and enliven the community.

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