The Curtain Opens on a New Era for Lancaster's Fulton Theatre

Setting the Stage for Revitalization of Its Downtown Neighborhood

At a Glance

  • Lancaster’s Fulton Theatre is 165 years old, spanning almost the entire history of the American stage.
  • In addition to presenting shows, the Fulton runs a year-round program of theater-making classes, the Academy of Theater, for students of all ages.
  • The High companies have supported the Fulton Theatre for decades through numerous sponsorships and in-kind donations
  • High executives continuously serve on the Fulton Theatre’s Board of Directors

 

 

“Arts are for everyone, we want to get people to put their phones down, gather and go out for experiences, connect, form new relationships. We want to be collaborative not competitive.”  – Marc Robin, Executive Artistic Producer

Broadway-Quality Productions in a Beautifully Restored Theater

Listening to Marc Robin and Rich Bowen talk about the parts they and many others have played in the evolution of downtown Lancaster’s Fulton Theatre is as exciting as any drama staged at this unique community treasure.


Marc is the theater’s Executive Artistic Producer and Rich is the Director of Institutional Giving. Their enthusiasm over the Fulton’s growth and development, and its role in the revitalization of downtown Lancaster, is contagious. They aren’t acting when they speak excitedly of the current season and the ones to come, which contributions from the High companies and other sponsors will make even more spectacular.


The Fulton is now in its 165th year. Also known as the Fulton Opera House, it’s one of only 8 theaters in the U.S. designated as National Historic Landmarks. Open all year and employing Equity actors and set and costume designers from all over the world, the Fulton presents 20-24 Broadway-quality musicals, comedies and dramas each season.


The Fulton is a level-B regional theater as designated by LORT (League of Resident Theaters and Contracts), meaning it’s in the second-to-highest category of theaters, after Broadway. In fact, LORT theaters are often where shows that end up in Broadway have their start.

 

A COMMUNITY TREASURE

The Fulton Theatre is a gathering place where you can get out of the routine, have new experiences, and build new relationships.

“We could not do what we do without the High companies.”  - Rich Bowen, Director of Institutional Giving

High Companies’ Support: A Script for Success

The High Companies have supported the Fulton Theatre for more than 25 years:

  • Serving as co-sponsor for the 2002-2003 season, which marked the theater’s 150th anniversary
  • Sponsoring the theater’s School-Day Matinee Program
  • Extensive main-stage support, leading to being credited as a production co-sponsor of shows such as Grease, West Side Story, The Addams Family, and Billy Elliott
  • Providing overflow housing for cast members through High Hotels Ltd. when the theater’s own cast quarters were full
  • Through High Steel Structures LLC, contributing in-kind donations of steel for building sets

 
A “Breakout Performance” for the Entire Community


The S. Dale High Family Foundation provided a $50,000 pledge, in what was dubbed the “Breakout Performance” campaign to support the theater’s work revitalizing the Prince Street block where it stands. It will be restored to its 1900-era appearance, including historically accurate facades and windows. Some of the buildings will be renovated to produce 31 apartments for out-of-town actors, which is also expected to help boost the resurgent neighborhood’s economy via increased dining and shopping.


As Marc and Rich tell it, the “Breakout Performance Campaign” has two dimensions: It’s artistic-driven, in the refurbishment of the theater’s façade, and community-driven, with the goal of revitalizing the area. Refurbishing the block is designed to make it “an invitation to downtown” and encourage the owners of other properties around the theater to follow suit.


Steeling the Show


High Steel Structures LLC has also made another significant contributions to the Fulton. For many years the theater was limited in the size and scenery capabilities of its shows because the “shop” where its sets were built was small. A few years ago, High Steel helped them build a new 14,000-square-foot building, less than a mile away. This generous gift now allows the company to stage even the largest and most complex productions—including Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the largest production in its history to date, which opened in November 2016 and has been a huge success.

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