The American Repertory Theater of WNY (ART) is growing. The theater company has outgrown its 50 seat theater on Amherst Street. The smaller theater proved to be an excellent placeholder, but ultimately it turned out that there was a need for room to grow. That need to grow resulted in ART identifying two new exciting theater venues for the 2018-19 season and beyond. The two new spaces will allow the theater company to roll out multiple shows, a holiday special, as well as larger scale musicals and plays.
The smaller of the venues is the former Theatreloft space at 545 Elmwood Avenue (lead image), which can accommodate 99 theater goers. A ten-year lease has been inked with Sinatra & Company Real Estate. This is great news for Elmwood, because this prime space has been empty for quite some time. “With Artistic Director Candice Kogut’s programming and the proximity between actors and audience, ART will pick up where it left off,” said Executive Director Matthew LaChiusa, regarding the 545 Elmwood space. “Great selection of works, great theatrical performances, and the audiences an arm’s reach away from the stage, this opportunity will allow all this to continue.”
The second theater that ART has identified is a 300-seater located inside the Philip Sheridan building at 3200 Elmwood – the venue is in a former high-school auditorium. A deal was inked with TCS Development LLC for that space. “We have gone from zero to 120 overnight.” Executive Director Matthew LaChiusa on the recent developments. “The opportunities presented to us will insure this company’s future for years to come. We are excited to be working with strong partners and ready to get these ventures rolling.”
“We are currently looking to produce larger scale musicals and plays as well as some community outreach – nights out for local businesses, for example,” said Kogut, regarding the 300-seat theater.
Both of the selected theatrical venues will need to be tweaked and updated to accommodate the needs of ART. “We are working closely with both business partners to ensure that the spaces we are operating out of are up to code.” LaChiusa said. “I feel completely confident in their commitment to making these spaces compliant so we can operate in the same space for years to come.”
Technologically updating the spaces is of utmost importance, as is accessibility and comfortability for the audiences. Going from a 50 seat theater, to two distinct larger theaters is a task that ART is excited to tackle. “It’s going to be a lot of work on the production end of things, but this will give artists, actors and designers more opportunities,” mentioned Kogut. “We will also have to expand our production and house management staff.”
After 11 years, delivering top quality performances, ART is looking forward to taking its programming to an entirely different level.
“It means we are about to experience an explosion!” stated Kogut, when asked what this expansion means for the company. “We will be able to branch out and expand our audience base, as well as expand our potential for productions and artistic endeavors. This is an incredible opportunity that I’m so pumped for! I love ART so much and to be a part of helping it thrive is an honor and a challenge that I’m all in for.”
American Repertory Theater of WNY will kick-off the 2018-19 season at the 3200 Elmwood location with a production of HEATHERS: THE MUSICAL by Laurence O’Keefe and Kevin Murphy September 6th. For more information please visit www.artofwny.org