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Queens Theatre expands

Big donors and elected officials helped cut the ribbon last week on Queens Theatre in the Park’s $27 million expansion and renovation that includes new cabaret space and a 3,000-square-foot lobby.

The city-funded construction project was needed so QTP can provide more performances and updated amenities, according to Jeff Rosenstock, QTP’s artistic director.

“Queens audiences deserve improved amenities” Rosenstock said during the celebration at the theater last Thursday, noting the new cabaret and lobby “will add to the experience of attending a show at our theater.”

About 100,000 people visit QTP each year for performances, Rosenstock said.

In addition to the $27 million renovation and expansion, the theater started a private campaign to raise $2 million to support artistic grants and ensure that the show will go on at QTP in tough times.

The theater has raised $1.9 million of the $2 million, with $500,000 coming from Bank of America. The company’s name will be prominently placed on the new cabaret space.

Connie Verducci, New York City market manager for Bank of America, said it was a no-brainer for the bank to provide funding to the Queens cultural institution.

“The fact that [Rosenstock] was so focused on making this a destination for Queens residents to stay in Queens ... to me was the driving factor,” she said.

Borough President Helen Marshall said her office has secured $10 million in capital funding for the expansion project and marveled at the finished product.

“I would challenge anybody to go anywhere in the city to find such a beautiful theater,” she said. “Is this not a good investment? It sure is. It’s money well spent to keep the lights at Queens Theatre shining brightly.”

City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) noted the theater is in her district and said Queens residents were entitled to an upgraded performance space.

“We are reminded ... that we do deserve quality. We do deserve elegance. We do deserve professionalism,” she said.

Kate Levin, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs, said it was “a pleasure” for her office to provide funding for the expansion and renovation.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), chairman of the Council Cultural Affairs Committee, said the theater was “a jewel of Queens.”

“You do not have to go to Manhattan to see first-rate, quality productions,” he said. “It’s in Queens every single day. This is an amazing day for Queens.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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