Local theatre group will move to Myriad Botanical Gardens in 2007 after $400,000 water stage renovation.
From left: Jim Tolbert, Chairman of the
Myriad Gardens Authority;
David Holt, President of the Board of
Directors of Oklahoma Shakespeare in
the Park; Mayor Mick Cornett;
Dixie Jensen, Executive Director of the
Myriad Gardens Foundation
(December 13, 2006) – The Myriad Botanical Garden, whose acres of flowers transform themselves with each turning season, will undergo a radical transformation of its own with today’s announcement that local theatre company Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park (OSP) will make the Gardens’ popular water stage its new performance home. The Oklahoma City Council unanimously approved a three-year lease allowing OSP to stage productions from the Water Stage starting in June 2007.
A press conference announcing the new lease agreement was held at the Myriad Botanical Gardens at 1 p.m. December 12. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Myriad Gardens Authority Chairman Jim Tolbert and David Holt, board president of Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, all commented about the new opportunity to bring the classical theatre company downtown.
“This development shows that success breeds more success,” said Mayor Cornett. “This is part of creating a living downtown, where citizens live, work and play. I can think of no greater image to show what Downtown has become than to picture thousands of Oklahomans enjoying live theater in the middle of a beautiful garden, with the Downtown skyline as a backdrop.”
The lease agreement between the City and OSP was made in part because of work already being conducted by the Myriad Gardens Foundation to oversee a multi-phase fundraising project to improve the Gardens’ popular water stage. Improvements to the water stage, including doubling the seating capacity, improved seating quality, controlled access for ticketing, concessions and dramatic fabric covers for the stage and audience, are projected to cost $1.9 million. Project funds will be raised privately.
The first phase of the project is an immediate $400,000 renovation of the water stage, including new electrical and sound systems, new stage structures, dressing rooms and enhanced seating in the existing stage area. The Foundation intends to have the first portion of the fundraising campaign completed by late winter, in time to see the renovation completed for OSP’s season opener A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June 2007.
“We are truly excited to see this come to fruition,” said Dixie Jensen, executive director of the Myriad Gardens Foundation. “The renovation and enhancement of the Water Stage as a major performance venue is another major step in the growth and development of downtown Oklahoma City. Bringing Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park to our gardens will not only bring new audiences, but will greatly enhance the overall downtown feel and experience.”
Since its inception 22 years ago, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park has called the City of Edmond’s Hafer Park its performance home. Vandalism in the form of two fires to the theatre company’s stage forced OSP’s Board of Directors to consider all options for a new permanent home. While the company performed successfully for two years at the University of Central Oklahoma, the Board sought an entirely new venue.
“This is a day that we celebrate OSP’s emergence, quite literally, from the ashes,” said David Holt, president of the OSP Board of Directors. “We could not be more excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for OSP in downtown Oklahoma City.”