Midland Theatre, community react to Bill Cosby sentencing

Local News

In 1978, the Midland Theatre closed and it sat empty for many years.

In September 2002, however, the renovated theatre reopened with two performances by comedian Bill Cosby.

The sold-out shows came nearly 16 years to the day that Cosby was sentenced to prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand.

“It’s sad when one of your idols comes under scrutiny like that,” said Nancy Anderson, executive director of the Midland Theatre. “It’s disappointing.”

Anderson worked as a volunteer at the theatre during Cosby’s 2002 performance.

In 2012, Cosby returned to help celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the reopening of the building. It was then, Anderson picked him up at the airport and drove him to his hotel.

“We chatted, it’s just a quick 15-minute ride from the Heath airport so we talked about football, we talked about his performance that evening,” she said. “He had flown in from a prior engagement.”

After one of Cosby’s performances, the comedian signed a photograph of himself, which hung in the theatre’s gallery.

In May, shortly after he was convicted, the theatre’s staff and board of directors elected to remove it from the wall.

“A few people questioned us leaving it up, but he’s an important part of our history,” Anderson said. “You can’t change history, but we felt out of respect for the victims and those in question that it was time to bring it down.”

The photo is now in an album with the autographs of several other performers who passed through the theatre.

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