Theatre will fail without commercial enterprise on property

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor:

Stratford is my hometown. I grew up here as did my children. I remember when Stratford Center had Kelman’s Grocery, Rapps’s Five & Dime, and other ‘mom and pop’ stores including Lovell Hardware. All have been replaced by the big-box outfits. Kelman’s by Stop and Shop; Lovell’s by Home Depot.

The world is changing: mom and pop businesses are being replaced by giant nationally positioned corporate stores. They have the money, the means to buy out competitors and provide the instant-access convenience so valued in our culture.

The American Shakespeare Festival Theatre has experienced this change too. In its heyday, buses filled with school children would pull in to see shows, local folks from Stratford and surrounding regions would come out in support. Even though its stage featured some of the leading stars and productions of the day, the Theatre was just another local mom and pop business.

Those days are long gone. The world is constantly changing, and no matter how one might like to return to a more simple time and less frantic pace, acceptance of this change is necessary. You can’t go back.

Just as the era of mom and pop stores has all but disappeared, so too the Shakespeare Theatre cannot be successful by going back to the way it was. It cannot keep an old-fashioned mentality style of operation and footprint. Whether you long for its re-opening or want to see it torn down, the fact is, the Theatre cannot support itself.

The only way this not-for-profit Theatre can survive is by having a commercial enterprise on the property for support. Having a beautiful boutique Shakespeare Inn will help sustain the fabulous Shakespeare Theatre in its park-like setting as well as bring jobs and tax revenue (estimated to be $500,000-plus annually) to the town.

Times have changed and will continue to do so. Without the yearly funding of the inn, the Theatre will fail.

Town Council members, please think, evaluate, understand and embrace the necessary changes that will take our historic Theatre into a sustained and successful future.

Carol Lockshier

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  • Question

    Who will stay at the Inn to sustain it?

  • George Mulligan

    The world has changed when it comes to economics and I believe the Theater can be sustained without other commercial development.

    Every movie needs staging. Many go to exotic sites. The Shakespeare Theater has
    unique properties for all kinds of Plays, Music, Live acts, and basis for rebroadcast
    and licensing.

    From my experience, my opinion is the local political actors want to either close the Theater and take over the land for other use, or find ways to draw the revenue to themselves.

    • Question to George

      Based on your comment; Are you saying you are in support of Elm Street Theater over Stratford Stage?

  • George Mulligan

    i am against anything other than the Shakespeare Theater, White House, and guard station on the property.

  • mjmboardwalk

    I honestly disagree. A commercial enterprise does not need to be there to make this a success.

  • Henry Bruce

    That’s just it Carol, its NOT going back to way it was, which is what the David Reed proposal would do. Its nothing more than what we saw from Louie Burke throughout the 90’s. Bug ideas and dreams, but no plan. I read the RFP response the other day. Where’;s the beef? You need to do your homework about what the successful performing arts venues are doing in Fairfield County. You’ll then know that ESTC has the right formula and approach and David Reed’s Inn is a total non-starter

    • wendy canfield

      I couldn’t agree more Henry. If David Reed wants to build a hotel and restaurant – he should rely of his commercial development skills and leave the Shakespeare Theatre out of it. Stratford has enough brownstrips without devestating the 14 acres of land that the Theatre sits on. David’s belief that the Theatre cannot suceed without commercial development to support its reopening doesn’t say much for the quality of shows Reed anticipates. I am disgusted with the ongoing parade of individuals all ready to exploit one of Stratford’s true remaining assets in an effort to satisfy their egos and or bank accounts. Enough already.

  • wendy Canfield

    Building a new hotel in Stratford IS NOT a necessity that is
    reasonably supported by the large number of people from N.J and CT who go to
    New York City to see a show and return to their homes the same night.

    Building a restaurant for the unnecessary hotel is also a
    bad idea especially in light of the struggling restaurants in the town Center.

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