NorShor Theatre Celebrates First Anniversary

Local leaders discuss the venue's first year

DULUTH, Minn. – The historic NorShor Theatre has now been open for a year. It was even busier in its first 365 days than the Duluth Playhouse expected and more could be offered this year.

Christine Gradl Seitz is the Executive and Artistic Director of the Duluth Playhouse. She says the six-hundred seat venue has given even more people a chance to see live theatre in Duluth.

“With each and every show that we’ve produced here, we have sold more tickets to that event than we had the capacity to do at the Duluth Playhouse,” said Seitz.

Several years ago, a renovated NorShor was still just a dream for community leaders after the building was left in disrepair for decades.

“It was the center for a lot of problems in our community,” recalled former Duluth Mayor Don Ness. “There was prostitution and drug dealing and gang activity centered in one of the most prominent properties on Superior Street.”

Ness remembers a long, complex process in reopening the theatre that brought together the private sector, non-profits, and government entities.

“To walk in that first night and to see the grandeur restored and to see how well they handled the historic part but also modernizing it,” said Ness.

Tony Cuneo is the Executive Director of Zeitgeist, located across the street from the NorShor. He says the renovated venue brings even more people into his space and nearby businesses.

“Artists expressing themselves whether here or at the NorShor is a big part of creating energy and creating a community that people want to be a part of,” said Cuneo.

In addition to live theatre performances, the historic structure has welcomed a classic film series and national touring acts like Steve Earle and Maria Bamford.

“Now they’re able to come here and people are just loving the experience not only because of the talent on the stage but because they get to see that talent in that space,” said Ness.

Seitz says the Duluth Playhouse has now raised nearly $2 million of the $4.5 million remainder needed to fully fund the $30.5 million renovation project.

“When they come inside they see where their money’s going and why this was important and how successful it’s been and let’s keep it up,” said Seitz.

The Duluth Playhouse is hosting its Encore fundraiser on March 16th. It will feature performances by the cast of the renovated theatre’s first production, Mamma Mia.

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