June 16, 2004
Plans for Walgreen Drama Center announced
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan has announced plans to construct the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre on North Campus pending approval by the U-M Board of Regents at its meeting June 17.
The facility will house the departments of theatre and drama, and musical theatre. It will comprise a 250-seat theater named to honor the U-M's Pulitzer-prize winning alumnus, as well as rehearsal rooms, studios, classrooms, workshops and faculty offices.
The new 100,000 square-foot facility will be designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna and Blumberg Associates (KPMB), who recently renovated Sprague Memorial Hall for Yale University's School of Music and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. Other recent projects by KPMB, which is headquartered in Canada and New York, include these Canadian venues: National Ballet of Canada, the Stratford Festival Theatre, Toronto's Hummingbird Centre for the Performing Arts and the Royal Conservatory of Music.
The Arthur Miller Theatre will be a flexible space suitable for traditional or experimental theater. At 250 seats, the space is more than twice the size of the 110-seat, black box Trueblood Theater in the Frieze Building now used by the two academic departments.
President Mary Sue Coleman said, "The arts play a vital role on our campus, and in the entire Ann Arbor community. The Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre represent new assets for our academic program and students, and further enhance our commitment to the performing arts in the region."
The Walgreen Drama Center will replace the Frieze Building as the home for performing arts students in the School of Music, which is rated one of the top music programs in the country. The U-M and its School of Music are alma mater to generations of award-winning composers, performers and directors including six alumni recently nominated for Tony Awards.
Provost Paul N. Courant said, "We have superb programs in theatre and musical theatre. Finally they will have space that will support and help to enhance their marvelous quality."
"The Walgreen complex will establish a destination site on North Campus and give the Ann Arbor community a facility where they can experience the full vitality and force of live theater in an intimate and flexible space worthy of bearing the name of Arthur Miller. I am confident that the Walgreen Center and the Arthur Miller Theatre will be a catalyst for the creation of great art well into the future, art that we now only can imagine," said Karen Wolff, dean of music. "The Walgreen Drama Center and the Arthur Miller Theatre represent an enormous step forward for our students and faculty. For decades, theatre has held forth in a building designed for other purposes, a make-do, make-shift facility that nevertheless has produced outstanding alumni whose achievements are celebrated across this nation."
The Walgreen Drama Center will feature rehearsal rooms, specialized studios and classrooms designed for teaching and rehearsing specific skills such as: voice; acting for the camera; and design of scenery, lighting and costumes, in spaces where lighting, sound and sight lines have been designed specifically for theater. The building will also house faculty offices.
The Arthur Miller Theatre will be the venue for several fully-staged student productions continuously during the academic year. The new building will also serve as the performance venue for Basement Arts and Musket, two student-run performing arts organizations independent of the School of Music that mount as many as 100 productions per year.
The $34 million project has received $15 million in private support, including $10 million from Charles Walgreen, and his wife Jean. The School of Music continues its fund-raising efforts toward a goal of an additional $4 million.
Contact: Nancy Connell