The 250-seat Greer Cabaret Theater and Backstage Bar is one of the Cultural District’s great hidden gems – but it shouldn’t be. This is partially a function of its layout, tucked away well behind its Penn Avenue entrance. To meet the public halfway, the Trust is embarking upon a comprehensive redesign of this important theatrical space, creating a more inviting experience.
“The Greer Cabaret Theater, the Backstage Bar, and the Theater Square lobbies will be undergoing extensive renovations over the next year to make these spaces shine,” says Nick Gigante, Senior Vice President of Development and Real Estate for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “The Theater will transform from the black box you see now into an intimate cabaret on par with New York venues like Joe’s Pub and 54 Below. The Backstage Bar will be expanded, and the box office and restaurant lobbies will become one grand space, streamlining and elevating the patron experience.” Mr. Gigante adds, “This project is made possible in large part by the generous support of the Eden Hall Foundation, whose chairman and president, George C. Greer, has been a long-time Trustee of the Cultural Trust and whose name graces the Theater.”
“One of the Eden Hall Foundation’s core beliefs is that an investment in the arts is essential for building vibrant communities for generations to come,” said foundation executive director Sylvia Fields. “A healthy arts community creates exciting opportunities for economic development and growth. The Eden Hall Foundation has supported the work of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust from the beginning and we can’t wait to see the true potential of the Greer Cabaret Theater come to life.”
Originally opened almost 20 years ago, the 250-seat black box theater with food and drink service will be completely redesigned. The space will be configured for maximum flexibility, with updated theater, bar, restrooms, box office, and lobby spaces. An expanded kitchen will also bring the dining experience up to a higher standard.
“Our goal is to highlight the amazing stories on the stage and create an inviting, intimate guest experience with upscale, welcoming décor,” notes Scott Shiller, Senior Vice President of Artistic Planning and Theater Utilization for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. “We are committed to the great design of the interior spaces, given the Trust’s history and reputation and that we are working inside a Michael Graves-designed building.
“We are working to deliberately script the ‘street-to-seat’ experience. That involves bringing guests from Penn Avenue through the lobby, into the bar area, and then to the auditorium. Our goal is to elevate the experience of seeing a show at the Greer — to wow, amaze, and thrill guests through both the venue design and a new culinary experience with food and bar service before the show, during the show, and after the show.”
“If we’ve done our job right, we’ve primed the audience’s mind to forget the troubles of their day and be in the moment,” says Shiller. “So, when the house lights go down, and the stage lights go up, the audience is ready to go on the artistic journey with the storytellers on the stage.”
The Greer Cabaret will be closed for most of the upcoming 2022-23 season beginning August 1st to accomidate the rennovation and upgrades. The upcoming season of the Greer single night cabaret performances will be held in the adjacent O’Reilly Theatre on Mondays when the resident Public Theatre performances are dark. No plans were released for the CLO Cabaret shows that currently take place in the Greer. The grand reopening is scheduled for May 2023.
Categories: Feature Stories