LONG WHARF THEATRE TO DEDICATE A REHEARSAL HALL IN MEMORY OF M. EDGAR ROSENBLUM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR 26 YEARS
One of Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein’s favorite memories of M. Edgar Rosenblum, Long Wharf Theatre’s longest serving executive director, doesn’t take place in his office or sitting through endless hours of technical rehearsal.
“For me, it is Edgar sitting on a folding metal chair watching a final run through of a new musical in the rehearsal hall, which is something he always did … the run was over and I was conferring with stage management. But there was Edgar, still in that metal chair, his eyes filled with tears. He had been so moved by what he had seen he was just sitting there – I caught his eye, he walked over to me and gave me a hug, muttered a few words and walked out,” recalled Edelstein, then a young artistic associate at the theatre.
M. Edgar Rosenblum who died in April at the age of 78, was a champion of the creative process. He believed that the prime mission of management was to support and enable the artistic vision. His careful stewardship of Long Wharf Theatre for over close to three decades fostered an environment where artistic greatness could be achieved.
And now Rehearsal Hall A, the crucible for special moments on stage, will be dedicated in Rosenblum’s memory. The ceremony will take place before the opening night performance of The Old Masters on Jan. 26. “A plaque in honor of Edgar will be placed inside the room for all who work there to see, honoring a man who dedicated his life in support of the process of making theatre,” Edelstein said.
Morton Edgar Rosenblum was born in 1932 in Brooklyn, N.Y. After attending Bard College he first opened the Polari Gallery in New York City. When he moved Polari to Woodstock, N.Y. and began staging readings and folk concerts in the gallery his involvement with a life in the theatre became clear. Subsequently, he took over the Woodstock Playhouse where he presented programs of theatre from the world’s classics mixed with recent Broadway hits, series of folk & classic concerts and children’s shows. In Woodstock he founded the Hudson Valley Repertory Company with the goal of presenting year-around theatre productions in the mid-Hudson valley
Rosenblum served as Long Wharf Theatre’s executive director from 1970 to 1996, working alongside Artistic Director Arvin Brown during an era of unprecedented commercial and artistic success. When Rosenblum first came to Long Wharf Theatre in 1970, the theatre’s budget was $400,000. When he left in 1996 it was $5.5 million. When the theatre was at its most popular, over 18,000 people subscribed.
During Rosenblum’s tenure, Long Wharf Theatre productions regularly extended their runs to Broadway and other venues. Twenty -six Long Wharf productions transferred to Broadway, Off-Broadway, television and other regional theatres, bolstering Long Wharf Theatre’s reputation internationally and placing it at the vanguard of the nation’s regional theatres. In the late 1970s, under Rosenblum’s and Brown’s leadership, the theatre was given back-to-back Pulitzer Prizes for The Shadow Box and The Gin Gamein addition to being an incubator of other award-winning work.
“His impact was enormous,” Brown said after Rosenblum’s passing. “I think that the main reason for our success was the way we were able to work together as a team … He completely respected my area and I completely respected his. We never had any trouble keeping our areas connected but separate. I am very grateful for our partnership. When we both stepped down and life separated us, we were the longest running act in American theatre and there was a reason for that. It was because of trust. I don’t think it could work if the two people involved didn’t trust each other.”
In many ways, Rosenblum revolutionized his management role as executive director, supporting the quest to make relevant and exciting art through prudent development, marketing and managing of the theatre’s operations and long term planning. He was intimately involved in all aspects of the theatre’s day to day operations, including the productions themselves. Arvin Brown may have been the public face of Long Wharf Theatre, but was Rosenblum was quietly its lifeblood.
“The truth about our Edgar, at least from where I stand, is that he was a sentimental, passionate, deep and fierce lover of the arts, the theatre most of all. He was intimidated by no one, but he had a true reverence for all the artists he worked with who created the theatre he dedicated his life to support,” Edelstein said.
Rosenblum left Long Wharf Theatre in 1996, serving as Executive Director for New York’s Circle-in-the-Square and the Theatre for a New Audience and as producing consultant at Berkshire Theatre Festival. He was a site visitor for The National Endowment for the Arts, served on its theatre grant review panel and was an auditor for NYSCA, The New York State Council on the Arts. He is the former chairman of the board of the American Arts Alliance, founding president of the National Corporate Theatre Fund and former president of the League of Resident Theatres. He also taught theatre management at Yale University.
For more information about Long Wharf Theatre, visit www.longwharf.thinkcreativegroup.com or call 203-787-4282. Media should contact Steve Scarpa, director of marketing and communications at 203-772-8255 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org