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Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A New Start Planned for White Barn Theatre

The drama surrounding the fabled White Barn Theatre complex, the brainchild of the late play producer Lucille Lortel, is now in its final act, with supporters poised for a happy denouement.

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Actress, producer and theater impresario Lucille Lortel founded the White Barn Theatre in 1947.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

A contract to buy the 15-acre property on the Norwalk and Westport border was signed recently between the White Barn Theatre Foundation and the property’s current owner 78 Cranbury Road LLC.

The contract secures the property if the foundation raises $1.2 million to complete the transaction by this spring, says Waldo Mayo, White Barn Theatre Foundation president.

He said nonprofit, Virginia-based Conservation Fund has tentatively committed to lend the balance of the $4.95 million purchase price.

For more than five decades the White Barn Theatre served as a springboard for playwrights including Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee and for actors, such as Kevin Spacey, as they emerged onto the national stage.

The effort to acquire the property has been led by a coalition of Fairfield County and Broadway theater communities and leaders of the Cranbury and Westport Partrick Road neighborhoods that surround the property, with support of the Norwalk Land Trust, Norwalk Preservation Trust and Norwalk Historical Society.

The White Barn Foundation is now seeking the public help to raise the needed transaction, Mayo said.

“I am so grateful to everyone who has supported this effort thus far,” said Mayo, nephew of Lortel.

“I look forward to working with our generous donors, who we hope to include in our plan for a unique performing arts center that inspires new dramatic work and creates performing arts jobs,” he added.

Mayo lauded his aunt as one of the first woman producers who “cracked the theater world’s glass ceiling.“

“Among other things, she funded and nurtured the original creation and production of the play “Fences,” starring James Earl Jones, after she established the Lucille Lortel Fund for New Drama at the Yale Repertory Theatre,” he said.

Mayo said the Foundation is committed to the restoration of that tradition while preserving historic and natural resources, “as well as the open space that forms an important part of the Saugatuck River Watershed.”

Donation can be made by visiting http://www.whitebarntheatre.org/donate,  by contacting Waldo Mayo, (516) 632 0824.

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Posted 03/01/17 at 02:22 PM  Permalink



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