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The New Road Less Traveled Theater

For years, Road Less Traveled Productions (RLTP) has been searching for the ideal permanent home for its theater company. That search has finally ended, thanks to a relationship with Ellicott Development that wound up placing the theater company at 456 Main Street. RLTP first started off occupying a cinema space at the Market Arcade. From there, they wound up at 500 Pearl Street (developer Ellicott Development). RLTP Artistic/Executive Director Scott Behrend told me that all the while, they always had faith that the day would come when they would pinpoint their permanent home – for a hot minute he thought that it might be 500 Pearl.

Robert Frost poem greets visitors in the hallway corridor

It was only when they discovered that they were going to be priced out of 500 Pearl, that Billy Paladino (Ellicott Development) offered to show Behrend the Main Street location, which had been vacant for over 20 years (formerly Baker Shoes). When Behrend saw the location, and learned that Paladino was willing to work with him, he knew that he had finally found the theater company’s “forever home”. 

I toured the 456 Main Street location with Behrend last week, and was quite impressed with everything that I saw. Behrend could barely contain his enthusiasm for the space.

“In nine months, we had to find a new space, get a deal done, plan a move, and get constructed,” he told me. “But it was all worth it because we were able to create a theater with everything we always wanted. We really lucked out with this ground level space – when we initially walked in we found high ceilings, with no posts, which is rare to come across. It was perfect for a theater.

“For the first time we have it all – we have our own box office window, all new bathrooms with water fountains, a lobby bar (RLTP has applied for a full liquor license), a dividing wall between the lobby and the theater, a new lighting grid, a coat room, our own power to supply the lighting and the sound, a stage manager’s booth in the mezzanine, a dedicated loading door, heating and air conditioning, a paint sink, laundry room, and men’s and women’s dressing rooms, with an actors’ bathroom.”

The only reason that RLTP was able to secure so much of what they wanted was due to added space in the back, where the Main Street building connects to/accesses the Antonio Building (267 Pearl Street), which is another Ellicott Development property. The extra space allowed Behrend to build out his list of amenities, one of which was extra storage space and a work shop. The only thing that was missing was space for the props and costumes, which are currently stored off site, at another location within the Theater District.

Unless you’re in the theater business, it’s highly probable that you aren’t aware of all of the various amenities that are needed to round out the full theatrical experience. From an ADA compliant footprint, to a deep stage space, to moveable risers, to an eye catching marquis, Behrend has managed to secure just about everything that was on his wish list, along with a ten year lease.

He’s managed to do this with the help of Ellicott Development, as well as a capital campaign. The campaign is halfway towards reaching the goal of $600K. Behrend is confident that when the campaign is over, there will enough funds to purchase more creative toys and tools, while implementing energy efficient upgrades to the space.

Behrend (red rose) stands with RLTP Managing Director Gina Gandolfo (red jacket) and Speed-The-Plow cast. Photo by Matt Weinberg

Behrend told me that it was the opportunity of a lifetime to create a theatrical space from scratch. He also mentioned that he was very happy to be back on Main Street. “Traffic is coming back to this section of Main Street, which we are very happy about,” said Behrend. “We’re thrilled to be anchoring the other end of the Theater District. We’re also helping to stabilize this block. We love seeing all of the new foot traffic, and are happy to be along the Metro Rail route. There are also a lot of new restaurants around for theater-goers to enjoy. It’s all part of the rebirth of Main Street, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

Click here to view RLTP’s 2018/19 season schedule | Currently showing Speed-The-Plow through November 18

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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