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Updated 10:00 AM June 21, 2004



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  Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre
Regents approve North Campus home for theatrical arts

Plans to move forward with construction of the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre on North Campus have been approved by the Board of Regents.

The facility will house the departments of theatre and drama, and musical theatre, and will establish a destination site on North Campus. It will comprise a 250-seat theater named to honor Miller, the Pulitzer Prize-winning alumnus, and will include rehearsal rooms, specialized studios, and classrooms designed for teaching and rehearsing specific skills such as voice, acting for the camera, and design of scenery, lighting and costumes. The building will include faculty offices.

"The arts play a vital role on our campus, and in the entire Ann Arbor community," President Mary Sue Coleman says. "The Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre represent new assets for our academic program and students, and further enhance our commitment to the performing arts in the region."

The 100,000-square-foot, $34 million facility will be designed by Kuwabara Payne McKenna and Blumberg Associates (KPMB), which recently renovated Sprague Memorial Hall for Yale University's School of Music and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago.

The Arthur Miller Theatre will be a flexible space suitable for traditional or experimental theater. It will be more than twice the size of the 110-seat, black box Trueblood Theater in the Frieze Building now used by the two academic departments.

The center will replace Frieze as the home for performing arts students in the School of Music, which is rated one of the top music programs in the country. The University and its School of Music are alma mater for generations of award-winning composers, performers and directors, including six former students recently nominated for Tony Awards.

"We have superb programs in theatre and musical theatre," Provost Paul N. Courant says. "Finally they will have space that will support and help to enhance their marvelous quality."

Dean of Music Karen Wolff says the Walgreen complex will give the Ann Arbor community a facility "where they can experience the full vitality and force of live theater in an intimate and flexible space."

"I am confident that the Walgreen Center and the Arthur Miller Theatre will be a catalyst for the creation of great art well into the future—art that we now only can imagine," Wolff says.

"The Walgreen Drama Center and the Arthur Miller Theatre represent an enormous step forward for our students and faculty. For decades, theater has held forth in a building designed for other purposes, a make-do, make-shift facility that nevertheless has produced outstanding alumni whose achievements are celebrated across this nation."

The theatre will be the venue for several fully staged student productions. The new building also will serve as the performance venue for Basement Arts and Musket, two student-run performing arts organizations independent of the School of Music that mount as many as 100 productions per year.

The Walgreen Drama Center has received $15 million in private support, including $10 million from Charles Walgreen and his wife, Jean. The School of Music continues its fund-raising efforts toward a goal of an additional $4 million.

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