Archive for February 25, 2012

Livia and Steve Russell Theatre at the Phoenix Theatre

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment
Phoenix Theatre

Phoenix Theatre. staff photo.

By Lori Raffel
Phoenix Theatre

The Phoenix Theatre of Indianapolis recently announced the renaming of the Phoenix Theatre Mainstage to the Livia and Steve Russell Theatre.

Steve Russell, founder and CEO of Celadon, and Livia Klain Russell, retired florist/retired realtor, have been supporters of the Phoenix Theatre since 2003. The Russells keep an apartment in New York City; when they are there on business, they are attracted to the off-Broadway shows and to emerging and experimental playwrights. They often come back from a Big Apple trip with suggestions for the Phoenix Theatre.

Livia and Steve both serve on the theatre’s board and its fundraising committee, and they have been extraordinarily generous with their ideas and their financial support. They are true believers in helping those who help themselves.

In recognition of the Russells’ long-term commitment to the Phoenix Theatre, the Phoenix renamed its Mainstage “The Livia and Steve Russell Theatre” on Friday, February 17, 2012. The brief naming ceremony included remarks by Brian Payne, President of the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), and by Bryan Fonseca, Producing Director of the Phoenix Theatre.

Both the Russell Theatre and the Frank and Katrina Basile Theatre are housed along with administrative offices and a scene shop in a 1907 former church building at 749 North Park Avenue in Indianapolis’ Mass Ave Theatre and Gallery Cultural District. The building received an Adaptive Use Award from Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana (now Indiana Landmarks).

About the Building

In 1987, Indianapolis philanthropist J. Scott Keller purchased an abandoned, turn-of-the-twentieth-century church in Indianapolis’ historic Chatham Arch neighborhood and donated the building to the theatre. The renovated complex received an Adaptive Use Award from Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana. The facility houses a 130-seat Mainstage and the newly renovated cabaret-style 75-seat Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre, as well as administrative offices, a scene shop, and costume and prop storage. The Phoenix Theatre has played a leadership role in the revitalization of downtown and is one of only a handful of professional theatres in Indianapolis, and the only professional theatre in the state dedicated to contemporary work.

“The Phoenix Theatre has cornered the market on hip new works.” — Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

The Phoenix Theatre is Indiana’s only professional contemporary theatre, and has presented productions to challenge and entertain the Indianapolis community for 29 years. An Equity house, the Theatre presents the Midwest and Indiana premieres of many popular Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, and has presented more than 83 world premieres in its quarter century. The Phoenix operates the 130-seat proscenium Livia and Steve Russell Theatre as well as the 75-seat cabaret-style black box Frank & Katrina Basile Theatre. The Phoenix Pub, located in the Basile Theatre, serves beer, wine, coffee, soft drinks, water, and treats, and patrons may take all refreshments into either theatre. Both venues are housed along with administrative offices in a renovated 1907 church in downtown Indianapolis’ historic Chatham Arch neighborhood, part of the Mass Ave Arts & Theatre District. The Phoenix Theatre is a member of the National New Play Network and the League of Indianapolis Theatres, and is supported by the Indiana Arts Commission, the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as local corporate and foundation funders and more than 400 individual donors.