The Playgoer: Long Wharf moves Inland

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Long Wharf moves Inland

Anyone who has been to Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven can agree on one thing. Unless you're driving, it's a bitch to get to.

So I'm very happy for them that they're on the cusp of getting new digs, more centrally located the heart of the city. (About 4 years from now, that is.) Interestingly, this was not considered an advantage when the theatre was built back in the days of "urban flight," "urban blight" and the rise of the gated community. Funny how things come back around.

"Geography is almost destiny," [A.D. Gordon Edelstein] says, pointing to the theater's longtime location away from New Haven's urban center. For decades, that base attracted upscale, older auds from the state's affluent Gold Coast, who may not have been so inclined to hit the city's then-perceived mean streets.

But with New Haven on the development upswing, Long Wharf could now benefit in its proposed location, adjacent to hip restaurants, upscale retail shops, a renovated train station, several colleges (including Yale) and desirable neighborhoods.

Clearly, with one of the oldest audience bases in the state (55% of subscribers are over age 65; only 16% of single ticketbuyers are under45), the theater had to do something. Its own internal study warns that an oversaturated market will be stretched thin if Long Wharf doesn't present more diverse options.


"It's a different time from when you could just put on a Shakespeare, Moliere or Arthur Miller and call it a day," Edelstein says. "We ignore that at our own peril."


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