- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - The Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend has been named the recipient of the 2015 Historic Theater Award from the national League of Historic American Theaters, placing it among famous theaters that have previous won the honor such as the New York City Center and the Fabulous Fox in Atlanta.

Part of the reason the theater won the industry award was because of the extensive renovations that have improved the theater over the past 15 years, said Dennis Andres, the Morris center’s executive director. About $25 million has been invested in the theater since 2000, he told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/1MmWnNd ).

The revamping of the 1920s theater began with an overall renovation that restored its stage and much of its plasterwork. In the years that followed, improvements were made to the theater’s pit section, a digital marquee replaced the old-fashioned display and new theater windows were installed.

And more renovations are planned for the theater, as staff hope to install by the end of the year new digital screens in the front four poster cases, replacing the paper poster displays, with scrolling information for all upcoming performances.

The theater’s new trophy from the League of Historic American Theaters will soon be displayed in the box office lobby.

“It’s neat to think that, out of theaters from all 50 states and Canada, that we were recognized,” Andres said of the latest award. “It’s a very prestigious award and I think the city should be proud.”

Leading industry trade publication Pollstar also has named the Morris Performing Arts Center one of the top 100 theaters in the world every year for the past 15 years, according to theater marketing director Mary Ellen Smith.

The theater first opened in 1922 as the Palace Theater and reopened as the Morris Performing Arts Center in 2000.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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