April 14, 2016

$5M Hanover Theatre expansion set for summer opening; new conservatory to be named after Eppinger

The Hanover Theatre will complete a $5 million expansion this summer.

The $5 million expansion of the Hanover Theatre opening this summer will bring with it a new conservatory offering classes for budding area thespians to be named in honor of outgoing Hanover Insurance president Frederick Eppinger and his wife.

"The theater wouldn't be here without him," Hanover Theatre President and CEO Troy Siebels said of the name for the 22,500 square-foot expansion. "He's responsible for giving us the insight to make it work and he and his wife Patty have been very involved every step of the way."

The space at 551 Main St. directly adjacent to the theater will house the 7,500-square-foot conservatory on the ground floor of the three story building. This conservatory will hold classes for aspiring actors from ages as young as six up through high school in an expansion of classes that are currently only held during the summer and for a much narrower age range, Siebels said. While not every student will go on to perform in the theater, the skills they learn are translatable to other areas of life such as public speaking.

The name for the new conservatory will honor Eppinger as he steps down from 12 years as the president and CEO of Worcester's Hanover Insurance. The theater not only bears the name of the company but has been widely influenced by Eppinger's guidance, Siebels said, using the modern lobby as an example of something the businessman pushed for.

"It can't just be ok. It's got to be great to be successful," Siebels said of Eppinger's push for the new lobby.

That influence has extended out into the expansion project, where the price has gone up from an initial $3.5 million estimate because of key expansions of the scope of the project, such as renovations to the basement that will hold an additional performance space, Siebels said. A connection was also added between the buildings allowing easy access to new function rooms.

The new building will be revealed at a June 2 ribbon cutting to be followed by a block party celebrating the Theatre District.

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