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Cleveland's Playhouse Square plans $10 million marquee project

Playhouse Square marquees.jpg
Playhouse Square
The six new marquees are part of a $10.2 million effort to further unify the visual look of Playhouse Square.

Cleveland’s historic theater district will get some new signage as part of a project announced Monday.

"So tasty and so luscious," is how Playhouse Square CEO Gina Vernaci described the renderings of the six new marquees slated for the theaters Downtown. The $10.2 million project is a continuation of “Dazzle the District,’’ the ongoing effort to unify the area’s visual identity with elements such as the chandelier suspended over the intersection of E. 14th Street and Euclid Avenue.

Now the Allen, Hanna, KeyBank State and Mimi Ohio Theatres will get new marquees, as will the Connor Palace and Bulkley Building – home of the Outcalt and the Helen Theatres.

Vernaci said the current signage has served its purpose. The canopy over the Connor Palace was installed in the early '90s. The canopy over the Allen is a replica of what was originally there. The marquees for the Mimi Ohio and KeyBank State were installed “decades ago.”

They’re all showing their age, Vernaci said.

“The marquees [for the] Ohio and State are very long and hang almost to the street,” she said. “The northern lane of Euclid Avenue tilts slightly to the north. So, the combination of those two factors has led to these marquees [being] hit by buses and trucks over the years. You can only take those wrinkles out for so long,” she said

Vernaci said the marquees will also be programmable with different lighting motifs. The designs are unified but will also take cues from each theater’s lobby.

“The goal of the marquees is to have a nod to the historical nature of the theaters, to give them a new energetic vibrancy that not only speaks to today, but to the future and perhaps the next 100 years,” she said.

In addition to the marquees, sidewalk kiosks will also be updated. Work is slated to begin following approval from the City Planning Commission, with the removal and refurbishment of the street-level video boards along Euclid Avenue. The project is slated for completion in the summer of 2023, just after Vernaci retires.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.