Ambassador Theatre Group Acquires Boston’s Historic The Colonial Theatre in Partnership with Emerson College

by Michael Eddy
Ambassador Theatre Group will operate the Colonial Theatre
Ambassador Theatre Group will operate the Colonial Theatre

BOSTON—The Ambassador Theatre Group has signed a 40-year lease with Emerson College to operate The Colonial Theatre in Boston. Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) will be investing several million dollars in capital improvements to the theatre space and have the 1,680-seat theatre re-opened in January 2018.


Further information from ATG

The 40-year lease agreement with Emerson College will include investing several million dollars in much-needed capital improvements as well as bringing productions back to the historic theatre. Following renovations, the 1680-seat Colonial Theatre will re-open in January 2018.

“The Colonial is a high quality, high potential theatre. Boston is one of America’s – and the world’s – great cities. We strongly believe in the live theatre and live entertainment business in North America, and thank Emerson College for selecting us. We will repay your trust,” commented Stephen Lewin, Ambassador Theatre Group’s CEO, North America.

ATG and Emerson College will jointly establish the Emerson-Colonial Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation to provide experiential learning and internship opportunities for Emerson students through four annual fellowships. These fellowships will fund student participation in the Edinburgh International Festival, and an Ambassador Award program which will provide an ATG mentorship program for two Emerson students annual. Additionally, ATG will develop a creative theatre study initiative for Boston-area youth, and seeks to create a new home for the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO).

The Colonial Theatre, which started life in 1900 with a production of Ben-Hur, is the oldest continuously operated theatre in Boston; as well as being amongst the most magnificent, having retained most of its original period details. The venue has a long history of presenting not just touring Broadway productions, but also hosting World Premieres of Broadway-bound shows such as Anything Goes (1935); Porgy and Bess (1935); Oklahoma! (1943); Carousel (1945); Annie Get Your Gun (1946); Follies (1971); A Little Night Music (1973); Beatlemania (1977); La Cage aux Folles (1983); Grand Hotel (1989) and Seussical (2000). This has lead The Colonial Theatre to be Broadway’s – and America’s – most important out-of-town try out venue, a tradition that ATG hopes to revive.

“The Colonial is a wonderful venue: a big, opulent theatre with a long and impressive history, one that’s rich in names like Irving Berlin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Stephen Sondheim,” said Kristin Caskey, ATG’s Executive Vice-President of Content & Creative, North America. “It’s impossible to think of a theatre that’s been as important to Broadway that’s not actually on Broadway. And, of course, Boston isn’t simply a great American city. It’s one of America’s great theatre cities.”

“This partnership is unprecedented and it will enable us to achieve our long-term commitment to restore, revive, and reanimate the Colonial Theatre,” said Emerson College President Lee Pelton. “Working with ATG will allow us to bring new productions, new vitality, and new energy to this landmark theatre, located in the heart of the Emerson campus.”