Encore at the Emery

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati, Emery Theater Renovation

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Cincinnati, OH | 85,000 SF

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati weaves wonder throughout its new, historic home.
Celebrated for excellent acoustics and unobstructed sightlines, the Emery Theater has hosted the likes of Bette Davis, George Gershwin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over its long history.

The theater is a space of dreams, magic, and imagination. It transports guests to distant pasts and futures, to scenes that are both far-flung and familiar. This makes it fitting that The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) found its new home in the century-old Emery Theater in Downtown Cincinnati.

An accessible, expanded lobby enables the Emery Theater to meet the needs of modern audiences.
An expanded entrance and lobby weaves whimsical and immersive elements (neon lights, props, and a light wall) into the theater's historic fabric while adapting it for the needs of contemporary audiences.

The Emery was not only TCT’s home from 1949-1969, but its beautifully ornamented historic fabric will be woven together with distinctly modern technology to produce an immersive, ever-changing experience. The aim is to cultivate childlike wonder long before the curtain rises. An expanded lobby will echo features of the historic box office and marble-lined foyer, mingling the building’s antique interiors with neon signs, color-changing walls, and theatrical props.

Projection mapping washes the proscenium arch and walls, reaching beyond the stage to immerse its audience in the dramatized world.

Designed for symphonic music, the Emery’s stage lacks the wide wings and depth that dramatic theaters typically require. This is part of the reason it had fallen into disuse in recent years. To overcome this challenge, the renovation makes use of technology—notably, an oversized LED screen at the back of the stage and a 16-foot turntable and stage lift that can complete scene changes from beneath the stage in seconds. Projection mapping will wash the walls in front of the stage in light to create a scene that embraces its audience.

Expanding the theater's footprint helps it meet modern codes while extending access to all.
Undersized by modern standards, the stage is made usable by 16-foot turntable and stage lift, which complete scene changes in seconds.

A new home that is also its old one, the Emery Theater renovation will not only allow TCT to expand its programming—allowing more experimentation and original works—but it will extend the life of a historically significant theater that was once declared beyond repair.

Illuminated by overhead spotlights, the expanded, grand entrance welcomes spectators and entices pedestrians.