The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company (LVSC) today announced the kick off to its Capital campaign funding the renovation of the historic Reed Whipple Cultural Center. The 35,000 square foot center will be expanded to house a state of the art 499-seat theatre and rehearsal space as well as the Bard Lounge, Gallery OV - Opportunity Village Fine Art gallery and the return of Chef Mike Jordan to Las Vegas with Rosemary's Café, a re-imagined twist on their storied Las Vegas restaurant.
"It was one year ago today that the City of Las Vegas entrusted us with this beautiful building, the Reed Whipple Center, and along with that trust they also gave us a mandate to bring a first-class professional theatre to our region," says Dan Decker, Artistic Director for the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company. "This expansion allows us to create a multi-faceted cultural gem, anchored by Nevada's first permanent, professional theater company, and become a model for contemporary resident theaters across the country."
The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company won a lease for the Reed Whipple building by a unanimous vote of the Las Vegas City Council on September 7, 2011, as its first step in becoming Nevada's first member of the League of Resident Theatres, (LORT), a theater industry organization of non-profit professional theater production companies which adhere to strict financial standards and utilize all professional union actors, directors, choreographers and designers. As the building is transformed into a full-functioning performance space LVSC will become the state's very first professional resident LORT theatre company.
"When we leased Reed Whipple to LVSC, we knew they were a perfect fit for our vision of downtown," says Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. "Having Nevada's very first permanent professional theater company residing in the heart of our city is a true coup for downtown and is a great step forward as we grow into a city which embraces and fosters the cultural arts."
LVSC has been producing and performing world-class theatre plays and musicals since 2008, owing its early success to direct support from the Southern Nevada community. With an aim to produce full theatrical seasons in the new space by early 2014, LVSC will continue bringing the Bard to high school students across Clark County through its Shakespeare in Schools program and staging the beloved Shakespeare-In-The-Park and spring children's musical for the City of Henderson.
"LVSC has always been a wonderful partner with the City of Henderson in bringing great quality entertainment to our community," says Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen. "We know that with this expansion and a permanent home will mean more fantastic productions, not just inside the new theatre, but beyond as we will continue to work together on initiatives including Shakespeare in the Park and the spring musical at the Henderson Pavilion."
LVSC is embarking on a Capital Fund Drive to complete funding for the $45 million project, which has been conceptualized and designed by Gensler Architects to create a modern, technologically distinct playhouse and community focal point while paying homage to the Whipple Center's distinctive 1960's mid-mod architecture. LVSC aims to raise $15 million and break ground in early 2013. In addition to a world-class theatre, the expansion will also include amenities designed to make the center a cultural centerpiece in the downtown corridor.
"The LVSC is contributing to a real downtown renaissance, and this expansion will not just give us amazing live theatre from Shakespeare to musicals and beyond, it will also become a hub of activity and excitement year-round," says Las Vegas City Councilman Ricki Y. Barlow.
Included in the complex is the Bard Lounge, a chic spot for pre- and post-show cocktails and Gallery OV, Opportunity Village Fine Art, a retail art gallery featuring works created by the non-profit's clients. One of the jewels of the complex is the return of celebrated Chef Mike Jordan, known for Las Vegas' beloved fine dining restaurant, Rosemary's. In partnership with the LVSC, Mike Jordan is reimagining his storied restaurant as Rosemary's Café, an upscale eatery and bar including terrace dining, which will capture the beauty of the mountain vistas of the Valley region.
"I couldn't be happier to be working with the Las Vegas Shakespeare Company to bring a taste of Rosemary's back to the city that embraced us so much," says Chef Mike Jordan. "We look forward to bringing back some old favorites and creating new ones."
The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company hopes to break ground on the campus early next year with an aim to present its first season of Shakespeare, classic plays, musicals, children's theatre and world premiere productions in early 2014.