Hartford house prepping $25 mil add-on for 2000

Will add to role as state's leading B'Way product purveyor

HARTFORD, Conn. — The 2,819-seat Bushnell Theater in Connecticut’s capital city will open a second, $25 million venue next door in January 2000, just in time for the 70th anniversary of the opening of the first theater.

The Bushnell is the state’s leading purveyor of touring Broadway product. The second stage will be erected on the site of the Bushnell’s current parking lot, and half of its cost will be covered by a $2.5 million Housing and Urban Development federal grant and a $10 million state grant.

The Bushnell’s second venue will have a seating capacity of between 750 and 950, according to Bushnell executive director Douglas Evans. “The Bushnell is in such demand for performing arts of all kinds that we needed a second theater,” he says. “With the new theater we’ll be able to free up dates in the big Bushnell for even more large-scale product, including touring Broadway shows, by moving smaller attractions into the smaller theater.”

The new facility, which will be on a piece of land the same size as the existing Bushnell, will also include restaurants and other ventures not available in the existing theater. The Bushnell is already involved in studies for the new complex and in raising the additional $12.5 million needed to cover costs.

The Bushnell is completely booked this season, with such tourers as “Show Boat,” “Peter Pan” and “Rent” on the sked. The theater already is selling tickets for next season’s fall run of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”

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