ASU Gammage—50 years and running


Lexy Romano/SCC

Outside of Gammage Theatre in Tempe Arizona

Lexy Romano, Reporter

Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium, one of the Valley’s architectural landmarks, has been showcasing Broadway hits and the performing arts in the heart of Tempe for over 50 years.

The iconic venue is immersed in history and audiences and performers have felt it over the years.

“Before the casts even get settled at Gammage, they have to walk around and they get a feel for this historic space,” said Executive Director of Gammage, Colleen Jennings-Roggensack. “It’s the last theatre Frank Lloyd Wright built, and there’s kind of an homage to it.”

The Gammage project was first introduced by former President of Arizona State University, Grady Gammage in 1957. He contacted the internationally famed architect and friend, Frank Lloyd Wright to begin work on an innovative design for the theatre.

Neither Gammage nor Wright lived to see the theatre come to fruition, but their vision lived on in its rare design and appeal.

Even though Gammage does not receive funding from ASU or the State of Arizona— it relies mostly on their Broadway season and personal donors, Gammage is still very connected to the student life at ASU.

“Within the school of music [at ASU] we had the opportunity to have master classes and backstage time there, and learn a little more about the business,” said ASU graduate Elyssa Blonder. “We even got discounted tickets. They always made us feel welcome.”

Gammage highlights that it is more than a world-class theatre. In fact, the mission of ASU Gammage is connecting communities, internally within Arizona State University and also externally throughout Arizona—the mission of Connecting Communities allows ASU Gammage to “go beyond its doors to change lives for the better and make a difference in our community through the shared experience of the arts.”

“We have a tight connection with various communities because community isn’t a monolithic thing,” said Roggensack. “There are church services that happen at Gammage, the Arizona Bar swears in their next set of lawyers, we have even had naturalization ceremonies, there are a lot of things we do where we stay tightly connected to the community.”

The 2018-2019 season at ASU Gammage will feature several popular Broadway theatre performances beginning with the musical, “Waitress”—a performance based on the 2007 movie of the same name —as well as, “On Your Feet,”— the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, “Hello Dolly,” the Disney production of “Aladdin” as well as concerts, plays, symphonies and Christmas productions.