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Coach House Theatre Is Closing After 90 Years, But Programs Could Move to Ohio Shakespeare Festival

Ohio Shakespeare Festival actress and producer, Tess Burgler.
Ohio Shakespeare Festival actress and producer, Tess Burgler.
Ohio Shakespeare Festival actress and producer, Tess Burgler.
Tess Burgler runs Ohio Shakespeare Festival, and has also acted under the tutelage of her parents, Nancy Cates and Terry Burgler, artistic directors at Coach House. Tess hopes to continue some of the Coach House programs when she's joined by her parents next month.

The artistic directors of Coach House Theatre in Akron have announced they’re stepping down after nine years, signaling an end to the 90-year-old play house.

Nancy Cates and Terry Burgler and the board are leaving because the parent organization, the Akron Woman’s City Club, could not guarantee it would stay open through the entire next season. Cates says the uncertainty made it impossible to sell season passes.

Tess Burgler is Cates and Burgler’s daughter, and says her parents are coming off a pair of very successful seasons.

“Any actor, any volunteer, any patron or Coach House board member would tell you that the lifeblood and sacrifice and sweat and love that [Nancy] put into the theater was Herculean; absolutely heroic. I think it’s really hard to see something that was successful – and that is, not was, absolutely is successful – end in this way.”

Tess Burgler separately runs the Ohio Shakespeare Festival and says she hopes to continue some of Coach House’s outreach programs such as the "free-reading theater series and artists’ choice series and black boxes and things like that. We hope there will just be growth in another direction, rather than just some black hole that just gets left.”

Ohio Shakespeare is a partner with Coach House on what will be its final show, "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery,' which runs through June 4.

A call to the Akron Woman’s City Club for comment was not returned.

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