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A final curtain call at the old Guthrie Theater

Will reopen in July on Minneapolis’ downtown riverfront
/ Source: The Associated Press

The old Guthrie Theater dimmed its lights for the last time after getting a rousing round of applause.

“Let’s let the rafter ring in one final salute to the old place,” artistic director Joe Dowling implored the crowd as the renowned auditorium closed Sunday night the same way it began 43 years to the day, with a production of “Hamlet.”

The applause lasted nearly five minutes.

This summer, the Guthrie moves to a new, $125 million three-stage complex on the Mississippi riverfront in downtown Minneapolis. The old Guthrie probably will be demolished late this summer as the adjacent Walker Art Center makes room for an expansion of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Architect Ralph Rapson, who designed the original Guthrie, was in the audience for the final night. “It’s a bittersweet night,” he said.

Theater officials say the Guthrie, founded in 1963 by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, had outgrown its old space. Preservationists had argued the theater should be saved for its cultural significance, Rapson’s design and its acoustics.

The Guthrie’s first season in its new space opens July 21 with a new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”