Playhouse Square Unveils Next Phase of Neighborhood Transformation with Dazzling New Theater Marquees


Playhouse Square has unveiled plans to build on its neighborhood’s dramatic transformation. Designed to bring the grandeur and beauty of its fully restored century-old theaters to the outdoors, this next phase includes dazzling new theater marquees, signage for the performing arts center’s resident companies, and technology upgrades for elements installed during the original phase of the transformation.

“The marquees you see today have served their purpose; now, as we commemorate our centenary, we have the opportunity to create a unified visual vocabulary to welcome guests to Playhouse Square and help orient themselves,” explained the President and Chief Executive Officer. Gina Vernacci. “These new marquees have brilliantly set the stage for our next 100 years.”

The $10.2 million project is expected to be completed in June 2023. Playhouse Square is in the process of finalizing financing for the project.

Playhouse Square is leveraging its pedestrian-friendly environment to attract more visitors to downtown Cleveland, further supporting the city’s economy. The nonprofit performing arts center began its latest update in 2014 with “Dazzle the District” – including the now iconic and oft-photographed GE chandelier, catwalks, a retro sign, digital signage and more again – and continued in the summer of 2021 with beautiful new coffee enclosures and lush plantings, all part of the organization’s mission-based work to develop an inviting downtown neighborhood for residents, visitors and businesses.

Playhouse Square again hired experiential design firm The Barnycz Group – the same group used for the initial phase – to design and oversee the project. The company specializes in creating large-scale interactive and dynamic content environments and has orchestrated some of the world’s most eye-catching projects, including the GE chandelier, walkways and retro Playhouse Square sign; the Crown Fountain in Chicago’s Millennium Park; LG’s Vegas Spectacular; The Detroit neighborhood; Dubai Mall; and the Mall of the Emirates.

The Connor Palace and the Allen, Hanna, KeyBank State and Mimi Ohio Theaters – Playhouse Square’s five historic venues out of 11 total performance spaces – are crowned with new marquees that complement each other and will add ease of wayfinding for guests and visitors. Each theater’s unique design – inspired by ceiling details and other elements found in the rooms – has a daytime and nighttime personality with video screens, music and lighting that can change color to match the shows or to the seasons. The Bulkley building is equipped with its own marquee to help customers locate the Outcalt and Helen theatres.

Signage adorning the Hanna Building will draw attention to Playhouse Square’s seven illustrious resident companies: Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland International Film Festival, Cleveland Gambling HouseCleveland State University Department of Theater and Dance, DANCECleveland, Great Lakes Theater and Tri-C JazzFest.

Video screens and sidewalk kiosks installed eight years ago benefit from the latest technology upgrades for an even more dynamic viewing experience throughout the Playhouse Square District.

“These sensational marquees will be a lasting public tribute to all who have carried us through our first 100 years and to the brilliant possibilities that lie ahead of us,” added Vernaci.

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