About the Documentary
On a Wing and a Prayer: Achieving the Impossible Dream
Today, The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts serves as a dynamic hub for arts and culture in downtown Worcester, and continues to foster much needed community and human connection.
It started as a seemingly impossible dream. How did such an ambitious project come together? Many say it is something that could only happen in Worcester!
To renovate and restore it to what it is today was a massive undertaking. In fact, it was an idea that most said was never going to happen. People in Worcester called Ed Madaus and Paul Demoga “crazy” when they heard that the two friends saw a “For Sale” on the abandoned and dilapidated Showcase Cinemas Complex in 2000 and went to put a deposit on it the next day.
The two businessmen had a vision. The Worcester Auditorium had recently closed and Worcester needed a performing arts center. Filled with fond memories of musical theatre, Ed Madaus and Paul Demoga believed they could return the theatre to its once-elegant state when it was the Poli Theatre in the early 1900s. It quickly became apparent that it was going to be a multi-million-dollar reconstruction project, far exceeding original expectations. Trying to restore it to its former glory and grandeur seemed like a pipe dream. Many would have walked away rather than persevering, but not Ed and Paul.
It took almost a decade for their vision to become a reality! What made those two men persevere? You’ll hear from many directly involved in the massive restoration who played a big role in the seemingly impossible dream.
We are proud to share this story with you, and grateful to Mary C. DeFeudis, a founding board member and the theatre’s first benefactor, for our inspiration.
As we celebrate our 15th anniversary, we revisit the seemingly impossible vision of Edward Madaus and Paul Demoga, two men with a dream to resurrect the theatre and bring touring Broadway shows back to Worcester. The resulting revitalization of one of the city’s historical and architectural treasures ignited a renaissance that has changed the landscape of our city.
It is deeply gratifying to look back on how this ambitious project came together. Our cultural organization, then and now, was fueled by tremendous support from individual contributors, volunteers, and community leaders. We would not be here today if it weren’t for the many people who poured their hearts and souls into this massive undertaking.
We are delighted to take this important step to preserve our history for future generations as a tribute to our founders, whose vision to transform a shuttered movie theatre into a dynamic hub for arts and culture has changed the face of downtown Worcester.
With heartfelt gratitude,
President & CEO
Everybody did something based on their size and their ability. It’s not just a handful of people’s project or a handful of entities project. This is in the most noble sense, a community project, a community space that everybody should take pride and ownership in.Edward Augustus, Former Worcester City Manager
Maybe someone 50 or 100 years from now will want to see how this theatre was resurrected from a mess, from such disarray and learn about what we did to make it actually happen. It is something for our children, grandchildren and Worcester to look at someday.Mary C. DeFeudis, Founding Board Member, Benefactor
List of Interviewees
Clifford Anderson, Founding Member & Inaugural Volunteer
Michael Angelini, Founding Member
Edward Augustus, Former Worcester City Manager
Craig Blais, President, Worcester Business Development Corporation
Maurice Boisvert, Founding Board Member & Former Board Chair
Sally Bowditch, Retired President, Bowditch & Marinelli
Francis R. Carroll, Founding Board Member
Susan McDaniel Ceccacci, Architectural Historian
Harriette Chandler, Massachusetts Senate President Emerita
Lisa K. Condit, VP of Communications, The Hanover Theatre & Conservatory
Mary C. DeFeudis, Founding Board Member & Benefactor
Paul Demoga, Founder
Melanie Donegan, Founding Board Member
Fred Eppinger, Retired President & CEO, The Hanover Insurance Group
Warner Fletcher, Founding Member
Jane Grant, Founding Board Member
Dr. Ivan Green, Founding Member
Mel Greenberg, Founding Board Member
H. Carter Hunt, Founding Board Chair
Kallin Johnson, Founding Board Member
Richard Lavey, Former Board Chair & The Hanover Insurance Group
Nel Lazour, Director of Development, The Hanover Theatre & Conservatory
Edward Madaus, Founder
Margaret Madaus, Founding Member
Congressman James McGovern, 2nd District of Massachusetts
Linda McGowan, Founding Board Member & Formerly of The Hanover Insurance Group
Cynthia Monahan, Founding Member
Meghan Montaner, President, The Hanover Theatre Conservatory & Education Division
Robert Nessen, Former Principal at Nessen Associates
James O’Brien Jr., Founding Board Member & Former Board Chair
Michael O’Brien, Former Worcester City Manager
Michael Pagano, Former President, Lamoureux Pagano Associates, Architects
Olivia Scanlon, Artistic Director, The Hanover Theatre Repertory
Karon Shea, Founding Board Member
Troy Siebels, President & CEO, The Hanover Theatre & Conservatory
Helen Stockdale, Inaugural Volunteer
Thomas Sullivan, Founding Member & Board Member
Jennifer Tarka, The Hanover Insurance Group
Francis Tighe, Founding Board Member
Rachel Tosches, Board Member & The Hanover Insurance Group
Charles Valade, Founding Member & Board Member
Sharon Woodbury, Founding Board Member
Founding Board Members
Paul J. Demoga, Founder
Edward P. Madaus, Founder
Jo Ann Bauer
Maurice Boisvert, Secretary
Eugene Bullis, Treasurer
Francis R. Carroll
Mary C. DeFeudis
Mel L. Greenberg
H. Carter Hunt, Chair
James D. O’Brien Jr., Vice Chair
E. Lawrence Spurr
Dr. John Sullivan, Vice Chair
Founding Staff Members
We would like to recognize those staff members who have been with the theatre since its first year in 2008, or even earlier in some cases.
We thank ALL our volunteers for playing a key role in making The Hanover Theatre a success! Their dedication to the theatre, and their care and compassion for our patrons is inspiring and makes our theatre stand out above the rest.
We would like to especially thank those volunteers who have been with the theatre since its first year in 2008.
Mary Ellen Anderson
Mary Ellen Moore
Special thanks to H9 Films Production, produced and edited by John Stimpson, camera and color grade by Scot Broderick, grip and electric by Eric Widing and Bill Arbuckle, music by Ed Grenga, sound mix by Chris Anderson and additional footage by Kaz Gamble, AA Films.
We also acknowledge Betty Blute, stewardship & membership officer, for her tireless work and special contributions to this project. Thank you!