After more than half a century, it is the Nederlander era of the Detroits Fisher Theater, which will have new owners when the curtains rise there for the 2021 season.
An imminent acquisition of Motor City’s iconic theater hall inside the Fisher Building was announced on Monday.
The Fisher Theater and two well-known San Francisco venues, the Golden Gate Theater and the Orpheum Theater, will be purchased from Nederlander Co. by International Entertainment Holdings Limited, the parent company of the Ambassador Theater Group.
The deal, which is expected to become final on March 29, also involves ATG’s acquisition of the programming operations of the Detroit Opera House and Detroits Music Hall.
No financial details of the acquisition have been revealed.
TheFisher Theater opened in November 1928 as a theater and vaudeville palace, according to a story on the Broadway in Detroit website. It was transformed into a live theater in 1961 by the Dutch and has grown from 3,500 to around 2,000 seats to improve both the visibility of spectators and the feeling of privacy.
During approximately six decades of control of the Netherlands, the Fisher Theater became known nationally for hosting tours of Broadway’s greatest hits and notable world premieres of musicals like Hello, Dolly and Fiddleron. the Roof during their pre-Broadway releases.
In 2019, successful cultural sensation Hamilton brought a touring company to The Fisher. Its overture drew acclaimed “Hamilton” producer Jeffrey Seller, a Detroit subway native who grew up loving the shows he saw in the theater as a youth.
The Nederlander family’s roots in the Detroit theater go back to 1912, when DT Nederlander, whose father was a cigar maker in Detroit, began conducting the Detroit Opera House.
This launched what eventually became the Nederlander Empire of theaters and productions which made the family a major player on the Broadway stage and beyond.
“There was always a certain psychological resonance, and for many years the family opened several of their shows at The Fisher before moving to New York or going on tour,” said David DiChiera, founder of Michigan Opera Theater. , in 2016 on the death of family titan Jimmy Nederlander at the age of 94.
“Detroit has always been the origin of the Empire of the Netherlands, and the fact that they could produce for their own real estate made the family a unique theatrical power.”
As of March 2020, Broadway in Detroit, personally programming the umbrella of touring shows at the Fisher Theater, Music Hall and the Detroit Opera House, has been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January, Broadway In Detroit announced it would return with live performances in the summer of 2021 for its 59th season.
Programming will include “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations”, “Hadestown”, “What the Constitution Means To Me”, “Disney’s Frozen”, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” and “Hairspray”.
In announcing the sale of the Fisher and the two venues in San Francisco, ATG CEO Mark Cornell said in part: “We look forward to providing the best of Broadway entertainment to their loyal audiences when the theaters will reopen in 2021 and are also delighted to welcome the staff of these prestigious theaters to the ATG community, where we hope they thrive and be happy. “
Robert Nederlander Sr. also made a statement, noting his confidence that ATG “will continue to take care of the solid foundation that we have created with these theaters in their respective communities and take them into this next decade with great success.
ATG was founded in 1992 in the UK and bills itself as the world’s first live theater company. It owns or operates 50 venues in Britain, Europe and the United States (including the Lyric Theater and the Hudson Theater on Broadway), manages ticket platforms and produces shows.
Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at [email protected]
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