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Archive for Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rosy outlook for Community Theatre move

Lawrence residents and actors Charlie Goolsby and Fran Hopkins perform “Everything’s Coming up Roses” at the conclusion of an unveiling ceremony at the Lawrence Community Theatre, 1501 N.H. Theater leaders on Wednesday announced a $6.2 million campaign to relocate the renamed “Theatre Lawrence” to a new 300-seat theater at a site near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

Lawrence residents and actors Charlie Goolsby and Fran Hopkins perform “Everything’s Coming up Roses” at the conclusion of an unveiling ceremony at the Lawrence Community Theatre, 1501 N.H. Theater leaders on Wednesday announced a $6.2 million campaign to relocate the renamed “Theatre Lawrence” to a new 300-seat theater at a site near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive.

September 9, 2010

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Lawrence residents hear details of Lawrence Community Theatre move

The new 30,000-square-foot building will be at Sixth and Wakarusa streets and construction is expected to start in the fall. Enlarge video

An artist's rendering of the new theater.

An artist's rendering of the new theater.

Lawrence Community Theatre Executive Director Mary Doveton talks with Mayor Mike Amyx at Wednesday’s  reception.

Lawrence Community Theatre Executive Director Mary Doveton talks with Mayor Mike Amyx at Wednesday’s reception.

To an actual chorus of “Everything’s Coming up Roses,” the Lawrence Community Theatre on Wednesday unveiled a $6.2 million campaign to build a new 300-seat theater in west Lawrence.

Thus far, there are roses aplenty.

Leaders of the theater confirmed that they’ve already received $3.77 million in pledges, and hope to break ground on the site near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive by fall of 2011.

“This will be such an enormous step forward for the whole community,” said executive director Mary Doveton, who was part of the group 34 years ago who founded the theater. “This new facility will provide a great opportunity for the community to gather together.”

The theater announced gifts of $1 million each from the estates of longtime arts patrons Hortense Oldfather and Mabel Woodyard. The project also formally accepted the donation of 3 acres of property along West Sixth Street between Wakarusa Drive and Folks Road. The site — which is part of the Bauer Farm development and is in front of Free State High — is valued at $725,000. A local development group that includes Lawrence businessmen Mike Treanor, Doug Compton and Bill Fleming donated the property.

Among the features planned for the new facility:

• A 300-seat theater with a thrust stage, meaning seating will be on three sides of the performance. The current theater seats about 160.

• A parking lot for about 135 vehicles. The current theater is located in a residential area and largely relies upon on-street parking.

• An education wing that will include classrooms for the theater’s growing youth program.

“I think it can be a spectacular destination type of building for the community,” said Dale Glenn, a Lawrence architect with Treanor Architects who is leading the design of the building.

The theater also announced that it is changing its name to Theatre Lawrence to give the community a better idea of the breadth of programs it offers.

Theater leaders said they’ll now turn their attention to a general fundraising campaign to raise the remaining money needed. Retired Supreme Court Justice Fred Six and Lilian Six have been named honorary campaign co-chairs. The campaign has received contributions from the Capitol Federal Foundation, the Ethel and Raymond Rice Foundation, the Kriz Charitable Fund, the Hallmark Foundation, and the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation.

Depending on the pace of fundraising, the theater could be open as early as January 2013.

Comments

kugrad 4 years, 3 months ago

I am glad that the theatre has so much support. However, as a resident of the neighborhood of the current theatre, I am concerned. I worry that, after years of putting up without complaint with people blocking my driveway and generally filling all the available street parking several times a week, will the LCT be cautious and work with the neighborhood association to find a good tenant or owner for the property they are vacating? Could the school district use this property as it is adjacent to Central? I've enjoyed having the theatre in the neighborhood and I will miss them, but I don't want the wrong type of organization to fill the vacancy.

think_about_it 4 years, 3 months ago

I heard that Magna Gro was interested in the property. How many toilets do they have?

clovis_sangrail 4 years, 3 months ago

Loring Henderson might be interested. It would be much handier for his clientele to get to work downtown from there than from out by the jail.

clovis_sangrail 4 years, 3 months ago

An excellent location. They can just walk over to Lowe's to get the lumber to build their scenery, plus they get to tag that extra sales tax onto their ticket prices. And the gentry can retire to Smashburger for a bit of elegant apres-theatre dining.

Clark Coan 4 years, 3 months ago

Wrong location. It should be next to the Arts Center to create a synergy in the new Downtown Arts District.

clovis_sangrail 4 years, 3 months ago

Oh, no. They need to get it closer to Fox Chase so they can jack the ticket prices up to Lied Center levels and keep out the riff-raff.

Amesmb 4 years, 3 months ago

Interesting point. I, for one, think it would've been more cost-effective to buy and then remodel or add onto an existing building. Surely the cost would've been much less than building a new one from the ground up. But then someone else said they had a plot of land donated; not sure how true that is.

frankfussman 4 years, 3 months ago

This new location will certainly take the theater a very, very long distance away from downtown Lawrence, thus no longer the "Lawrence Community Theater."

conservative 4 years, 3 months ago

Oh yeah, I forgot if it doesn't happen downtown it isn't part of Lawrence.

barbaloot 4 years, 3 months ago

Our town is really fortunate to have a community theater. But the ticket prices are so high, no one in my community can usually afford to go anyway. For $20 per, you can usually go to KC and not have to sit through The Music Man or Noises Off. Again.

I'm not trying to be negative, but I would like to see more spaces here in Lawrence like the Living Room or the Fishtank, which are both in KC. Affordable to smaller theatre groups who produce more local work and like to keep ticket prices low. Renting either LAC or LCT are so expensive. Is DLAD doing anything for performing artists? I'm not totally familiar with the visual arts world. Do people have to rent the galleries at the LAC to have a show?

anitliars 4 years, 3 months ago

There IS a small theater group already - EMU. So support it if you do not want to support the large theater. Look up emutheater.net online.

Price check - it's $23 to attend a Topeka Civic production of "Arsnic and Old Lace" (without the dinner - i.e. on a Thursday night).

So anything not taking place downtown is not really part of the Lawrence community? Isn't that sort of exclusionary?

Congratulations from me to the theater folks. And thanks to the supporters. You cannot please everyone. But this move will allow more people to attend, expand on the range of related services that can be provided, and enhance the quality of live theater available in Lawrence. And it is being done with private funding. Well done!

liberallibrarian 4 years, 3 months ago

Anitliars- Good point suggesting EMU Theatre. I've seen a few of their productions- some good, some not- but, always interesting. I clicked the link you posted and it didn't bring anything up. So, I tried emutheatre.net and found them.

I agree with the person who suggested a better location might be next to the Arts Center. I know they had a plot of land donated- but, moving out to west Lawrence just seems kind of sad...

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

Are they going to have a buffet? How about bus parking?

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

Question: what do you do with unsold development ground during a deep recession? Bing! You donate it and take a tax write-off. Of course, it only works if you get some people........

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

Hmmmm...... I wonder who will build this.

Clevercowgirl 4 years, 3 months ago

LCT, before you get in over your head, you may want to research how the FSHS sports complex went. When your Architect and Builder are also your donors, you have very little power over the process.

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