The KeyBank State Theatre, with its 3200 seat capacity and its lobby home to original murals by renowned American modernist James Daugherty, is largest of Playhouse Square's five historic theaters. Standing here today, with all its grandeur and beauty, its hard to picture this majestic theater boarded up and left to ruin.
But boarded up it was and set for demolition to make way for a parking lot. Thankfully, a pioneering group of young theatermakers took action and the musical revue Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris opened in the KeyBank State Theatre lobby in 1973. The show had planned for a three-week run. It went on to play for two years, saving Playhouse Square from the wrecking ball.
Ray Shepardson Visionary; Producer, JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS; Founder, Playhouse Square Association
2012 Interview with the late Ray Shepardson
JACQUES BREL IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN PARIS cast; David O. Frazier, Providence Hollander, Terry Piteo and Cliff Bemis
This coming Tuesday, April 18 marks the 50 year anniversary of the opening of this little show that could. To the artists, activists and visionaries who rallied to rescue our theaters from demoltion half a century ago, we are eternally grateful. Next week we will honor the efforts of those individuals with a commemorative plaque in the theater's lobby. And tune in to our YouTube channel on the day where we will be sitting down with the show's original director and Playhouse Square's beloved Broadway Buzz host Joe Garry.