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Archive for Saturday, May 5, 2012

Groundbreaking to set stage for new Theatre Lawrence facility

May 5, 2012

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Theatre Lawrence will break ground this week on a new theater and performance space. The new theater, seen in this rendering, features double the seating capacity and adds classrooms and improved parking for patrons.

Theatre Lawrence will break ground this week on a new theater and performance space. The new theater, seen in this rendering, features double the seating capacity and adds classrooms and improved parking for patrons.

Theatre Lawrence will break ground this week on its new facility, which has its leaders counting down the days until they’ll escape routine scenarios like this one:

Last week, the group members had a late-afternoon meeting with an architect in the lower level of the retrofitted church the group now calls home, executive director Mary Doveton says. They had to end the meeting so a children’s class upstairs could move downstairs, enabling an adult tap-dancing class to begin and finish in the upstairs space before actors showed up to rehearse “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

“Right now we are so crammed,” Doveton says. “All of our programs are just jammed into this very small space. We’re turning kids away from children’s programs. We have things stored at three separate locations around town. We’ve had to add performances to shows this year — we’ve sold out three of our productions.”

The public is invited to the groundbreaking ceremony, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday at 4660 Bauer Farm Drive. The site is in the Bauer Farm development at Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. Doveton hopes the new building will open in a year.

It will be the first time Theatre Lawrence — which celebrated its 35th anniversary last month — has had a home designed just for it.

In its first show, the troupe formerly known as Lawrence Community Theater performed “The Secret Affairs of Mildred Wild” in the Carnegie Library building at 200 W. Ninth St., Doveton says. Then they squeezed in shows wherever they could — including South Park and even the Teepee Junction.

The group bought the church at 1501 N.H. in 1984 and had its first show there in 1985. Plans for the new building call for a 300-seat theater with dressing rooms and offices, plus an education wing with classrooms and outdoor space.

To build the new facility, Theatre Lawrence raised about $6.5 million, a feat Doveton describes as a “phenomenal” community effort. In addition to private donors, the Lawrence City Commission and the Douglas County Commission each pledged $100,000 to the project over the next five years, helping Theatre Lawrence exceed its initial fundraising goal of $6.2 million.

Doveton says building costs have gone up since plans were first announced. The $6.5 million would pay for only construction of the building, and the theater would continue raising money for furnishings and equipment.

The late George Woodyard, a Spanish professor and former dean of international studies at Kansas University, helped lead Theatre Lawrence’s fundraising campaign, and his sister Mabel Woodyard’s estate donated $1 million to the effort.

Eleanor Woodyard said space afforded by the new facility would help achieve her husband’s vision of exposing everybody — “young to old, rich to poor” — to theater.

“This building should be a wonderful facility for everybody in the community, to use and to come and enjoy,” she said.

Comments

tange 1 year, 11 months ago

Yeah, across the street from Wal-Mart. Definitely upscale.

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0day 1 year, 11 months ago

Putting it way out there where all the wealthy people live, makes me wonder....

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blue73harley 1 year, 11 months ago

"So my tax dollars go to entertainment that only rich people want and can afford it?"

Tickets are 20 bucks. Season tickets are around 100. Skip a couple cases of Natty Lite and you too could hang with us "rich people".

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rockchalker52 1 year, 11 months ago

Haters gonna hate & potatoes gonna potate. My property tax payin' self sez it's a worthy endeavor. We're funding an economic & cultural community asset for pennies on the dollar. Break a leg, Theater Lawrence.

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kansasredlegs 1 year, 11 months ago

Ms. Shepherd: Your story is factually inaccurate. The City & County Commissions were simply asked to help bridge the financial gap just in case the theatre missed its fundraising goal. The theatre stated to each commission that this funding request was only to make sure it did not lose grants that mandated fundraising goals. After securing taxpayer funding to secure its grant funding position, the theatre joyously announced it had exceeded its private fundraising goals WITHOUT taxpayer funds. This means taxpayer money is no longer required for its stated purpose. Ms. Doveton needs to go before each commission and state, "Thanks, but no thanks.". I can't recall who posted it, but the poster wrote that eventually the taxpayer money would become "operational / maintenance money" . He or she was wrong, it's become the, "Oops, the cost has gone up & We didn't factor in furniture money."

Step up Ms. Doveton and give the taxpayers back our money and get back at the trough with others wanting taxpayer handouts if more money is wanted, 'er needed.

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Jayhawk1958 1 year, 11 months ago

And at a location where people cannot attend because they don't have transportation.

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Jayhawk1958 1 year, 11 months ago

So my tax dollars go to entertainment that only rich people want and can afford it?

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 11 months ago

Someday, we will have a library groundbreaking, well I hope so, since I have been paying for it.

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robeee 1 year, 11 months ago

my neighbor's mother makes $69/hour on the laptop. She has been fired from work for seven months but last month her check was $20820 just working on the laptop for a few hours. Read more here http://tiny.cc

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skinny 1 year, 11 months ago

To bad they didn't make it a dinner theatre.

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