R.I.P. Brown County Playhouse

September 3, 2010
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Indiana University announced today that it's moving its summer theater program from Brown County Playhouse in Nashville, IN, to the main campus in Bloomington. There, it will be developing a summer theater festival.

What's good news for Bloomington--which continues to grow as a home for quality theater--is bad news for the Brown County town. Nashville, well known for painters and folliage, has been a more desirable destination thanks to the presence of the Playhouse and the quality of work done there.

While I didn't take advantage of it as often as I would have liked, I can honestly say that every production of seen there, from "The Rainmaker" to this year's "25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" has been well worth the trek.

It will be missed. 

Your thoughts?

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  • end of an era
    loved working there!
  • wistful
    Well, shucks. I have wanted to see a show there since long, long before I started blogging about theatre. Every time I road-tripped to Nashville, Indiana for shopping or whatever, I would see the Brown County Playhouse and think how fun it would be to see a show there. However, I never seemed to be in Nashville on a day when there was something playing.

    And then, after I started blogging about theatre and therefore started planning whole weekends around theatre destinations, there always seemed to be more shows than I could possibly see here in the Indianapolis area.

    I guess if I had wanted it more, I would have tried harder to make it happen, but still... I agree with Chuck that it's the end of an era. And I agree with you, Lou, that having strong performance art in Nashville made it a more desirable location for art lovers in general.

    On the other hand, if I were still living in Bloomington but as the theatre addict that I am now, I would love to have another strong, convenient source for live theatre during the summer.

    In any case, I agree with you that Bloomington is becoming quite attractive in terms of live theatre. I am looking forward to seeing and writing about the Cardinal Theatre Company's production of "Grapes of Wrath" this weekend, for example, and the Bloomington Playwrights Project has an intriguing season planned as well.

    So many shows, so little time...It's a good problem to have!

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Culture Shift
    While we are dismayed that IU is closing the Playhouse and the manner in which they decided (no conversation with the community on the issue), we consider this a great opportunity to have a year round Brown County/Nashville theater facility. IU only operated the facility about 5 months out of the year and let the facility sit dormant the rest, while not allowing us to use the facility while they were dormant.
    What is impportant is that Brown County has some very excellent entertainment options...The Coachlight Musical Theater (all orginal with local talent), the Red Barn Jamboree (Robert Shaw as a young Elvis and a young Johnny Cash), Mike's Dance Barn, The Figtree Gallery (live local music) so much so that we have created the Entertainment Trail of over 20 entertainment venues throughout our County, making Brown County/Nashville an even more desirable destination.
    So while this is dismaying, Brown County is growing and doing well...We invite you all. Maybe next weekend for our annual Outhouse Races!
    TOm Vornholt
    President
    Brown County Economic Development Commission
    • Will Be Missed
      My wife and I (pre-kids) would spend our anniversary at The Story Inn, and take in a show at the BC Playhouse. We will miss it very much.
    • (snapping fingers)
      The Coachlight! Yes! I knew there was at least one other Brown County theatre on my Want To Visit list but I couldn't remember what it was called when I posted earlier. Thanks, Tom! I met one of the owners at an Indy Fringe show last year (or, eep! the year before?) and was intrigued. Alas, I have not been able to make the trip yet.

      I love the idea of an Entertainment Trail!

      Hope Baugh
      Indy Theatre Habit
    • Nashville arts
      Here are some thoughts on my most recent arts trek to Nashville: http://www.ibj.com/lous-views-the-king-without-kitsch-and-other-brown-county-pleasures/PARAMS/article/20880
      I look forward to future trips--and to see what happens with the Brown County Playhouse space.

      --Lou
    • Good Theater, good business
      As a resident of Brown County for over 25 years, I have appreciated the cultural and economic uplift that Brown County Playhouse has provided. Its summer and fall productions also encouraged other businesses in downtown Nashville. Last Saturday night, our town was dark and nearly deserted at 8:00 p.m. On a night when a play was on in the past, it would have been a bustling scene of busy restaurants and shops and theater-goers. What a loss for IU. What a loss for our town.
    • recent visit
      Just spent some time in Nashville and saw the playhouse , was reminded that when I was a lad, I am now 51, I wanted to see a show there. Would love to be kept abreast of developments as I might be the one to save the playhouse-Would love to see the inside and be a part of the future of this theater-Kelly Corken
    • Playhouse is Back
      The Brown County Indiana Playhouse IS BACK!
      http://www.browncountyplayhouse.org
      Great line up of shows...no longer part of IU, now operated by Brown Countians.

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    1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

    2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

    3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

    4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

    5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.

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