Will a North Broad revival help historic Freedom Theatre?

Freedom Theatre has friends in high places.

Denzel Washington called its training program “unique and exciting” in a commercial. Its alumni include Erika Alexander of “The Cosby Show” and Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris.

But Freedom, thought to be the oldest African-American theater in the country, is in trouble. Repairs need to be made to “the electric, the plumbing, the carpentry, the floors, the roof, the walls, the windows,” said consultant James Smallwood.

The institution’s spiral downward started in the 1990s, when it built the expensive John Allen Theater. Shows were scrapped, staff fled, and debt mounted. Today the theater is still limping along, more than $1 million in debt.

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