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Edmond Town Hall Theatre To ‘Go Dark’ For Upgrades

Published: February 11, 2019 at 06:00 am

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Theater and movie-goers will need to be patient as the venue “goes dark,” or temporarily closes down, at the Edmond Town Hall for upgrades and repairs scheduled to be done from March 11 through April 5, ETH Building Operations Manager Sheila Torres said on Monday, February 4.

All other building activities, including space and event rentals, will continue as usual.

Pulling back a heavy curtain where an old rigging system hid backstage, Ms Torres revealed part of the theater equipment that will soon be changed.

A pin rail and rigging “used to move props,” works on a counterweight system, she said Monday during a quick tour on stage.

“As you can see, it’s very old,” she said. With new, improved equipment soon on its way, Ms Torres eagerly anticipates “modern means to move the set,” for performances.

“The repairs are part of efforts to enhance safety. They will also improve the theater’s ability to host more live performances, provide new offerings to audiences, and help to grow attendance,” as stated in a recent release. “Edmond Town Hall Theatre, the historic theater and movie house located at 45 Main Street, will go dark for four weeks beginning March 11, 2019, in order to repair or replace various theater components, including rigging, curtains, railings, and other things. During this time, all theater activities, including movies, will cease.”

“I’m sorry to do it, but it’s the best possible time,” Ms Torres said. The “go dark” time frame is the “least obtrusive for anyone planning to use the stage,” she said.

Stepping across the stage, Ms Torres pointed to other theater components that will soon change, including a fire curtain and railings, and she also described a new ramp that will be installed in order to get equipment, instruments, stage sets, and more onto the stage. Pointing behind the movie screen, she indicated a large bricked-in space where large items were once hoisted to the stage from the building’s back parking lot.

The only current stage access is through two small staircases to either side. During concerts or times when “the place is rocking,” she said it is difficult “getting things up here.”

Speaking of the large white movie screen at the back of the stage, Ms Torres said, “Our screen is not retractable.” She added that during productions, “We worry about it being damaged.”

With theater work complete, Ms Torres said, “We are hoping for a safe venue for performers and audiences.” The theater “brings the community together,” she added.

Town Purchasing Agent Rick Spreyer said February 5 that the winning bidder for the work was DNR Laboratories of Watertown, with a bid of $163,894.

“We are quoting out a new railing system for the theater separately,” he said. Town Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) funds will cover both projects.

According to the 2017-18 CIP document, the theater project funds are to “Demolish existing unsafe rigging system and replace with safe components, including removal of asbestos curtain, installation of fire safe curtains and other safety improvements as needed.”

First Selectman Dan Rosenthal had moved the theater upgrades forward in the CIP, making the work possible sooner, rather than in a coming year.

Edmond Town Hall, completed in 1931 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was a gift from Newtown benefactor Mary Elizabeth Hawley. According to the Board of Managers, "it has served as the center of the community and the heart of Newtown since its inception, providing generations of residents and neighbors with governmental services space; affordable family entertainment through its proscenium theater; sports opportunities in its gymnasium; and elegant space in its Alexandria banquet hall for gatherings, fundraisers, civic occasions, or to celebrate life events. Event rentals, live shows, movies, and a modest disbursement from a trust fund provide most, but not all, of the buildings operating expenses.”

 

Dark Night Cabaret Series

A silver lining accompanies the theater space's upcoming darkness. A “Dark Night Cabaret” series is being planned for four Fridays in March in the Alexandria Room, according to a press release from the board of managers.

“Dark Night” is a nod to the theater’s past, when it would go dark one night each week to replace the movie reels in preparation for the upcoming movie.

“The building’s little stage, located in the Alexandria banquet hall, will feature local performers and musicians. Beer and wine will be available with cabaret-style seating,” states the release.

“Dark Night Cabaret is a way to continue to bring the community together for entertainment, just in a different space and format,” said Ms Torres.

Tickets for Dark Night Cabaret are $15 and will be available online at edmondtownhall.org.

 

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