By JESSICA WETZLER
Daily News-Record 3/14/19
BRIDGEWATER— Bridgewater Town Manager Jay Litten gave a tour of the construction site for the town’s new $1.3 million multipurpose theater Tuesday, followed by an update on performances coming up for the center’s first season.
In his report to Town Council, Litten said construction continues to run ahead of schedule, despite the “incessant poor weather.”
Originally expected wrap in the fall, construction is now on track to finish this summer at 100 N. Main St. Its scheduled grand opening of Nov. 1, however, remains unchanged. The center will hold council meetings, with a new table being designed in Philadelphia to offer an open layout and allow council members to see visitors more easily.
A movie screen will be placed above the main stage in front of 15 rows of seating. Three rows will be in the front, declined area of the room with the remaining 12 rows on risers.
Litten said the theater seats will be the same as the seats inside of a Lincoln Navigator.
The front of the building will hold the lobby and concessions, which the town plans to staff with two people.
“We are hopeful we can do this without too many people,” Litten said.
Litten also said the Sipe Center is positioned 15 feet away from the street, making it farther than the original building.
Outdoor tables may be placed in front of the building to provide more seating options for visitors, as well as a place for people to sit when walking around the town, but a decision hasn’t been made.
“We expect people to have a good time here,” Litten said.
Councilman Travis Bowman said a lot has been done to the Sipe Center, with final inspections projected for the end of July.
Council approved plans for the $1.3 million theater Aug. 30 after purchasing the property at the end of 2017. Litten told the council that staff are still planning to have the grand opening Nov. 1.
For opening day, indie-alternative- folk band The Hunts will perform as part of their Darlin’ Oh Darlin’ Tour. Seven brothers and sisters from Chesapeake, who have been making music for over 10 years, make up The Hunts.
Other acts to be shown include Atlantic City Boys on Nov. 16; A Merry Country Christmas on Dec. 13; The Young Irelanders on March 13; Trouble Notes on April 3; 3 Redneck Tenors on April 25; and, on May 1, acclaimed Broadway singer Ciaran Shehan, famous for his role of The Phantom in “The Phantom
of The Opera.” All performances will be one night only.
Litten gave an update of performances Tuesday, including the addition of theater performances scheduled throughout the year.
The Virginia Repertory Theatre will present “Twas the Night Before Christmas” Dec. 7; The Bright Star Touting Theater presents “The Velveteen Rabbit” on Dec. 22; The National Players Theatre presents “The Dairy of Anne Frank” on Jan. 18, as well as “As You Like It” on Jan. 19; acrobatic show Cirque Zuma Zuma performs Feb. 2; dog performance Mutts Gone Nuts performs Feb. 29; and Randy Otto as Winston Churchill comes to Bridgewater March 7.
Alex Wilmer, assistant town manager, said a completed schedule is expected to be released this summer, and those interested in information can visit sipecenter.com.
The center also will be home to a movie theater showing second- run films three to four evenings a week.
Wilmer said the Sipe Center, named for a store that operated in the same location in the early 1900s, will have a stage for smaller performing arts groups, concerts and guest speakers. In addition, council also will begin holding its meetings there instead of at town hall.
The theater is projected to generate $5,200 in monthly concessions and $3,000 in ticket revenue.
Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, sponsored legislation that would allow the town to obtain an alcohol license to be used at the theater. The bill was approved by Gov. Ralph Northam, allowing the town to avoid applying for a onetime event licenses to serve alcohol.
In other business on Tuesday’s agenda was an update on Generations Park Ice Skating 2018-19 season.
Megan Byler told council that the ice skating rink saw total revenue of $102,221, with over 14,000 visitors. Last season, the rink had a revenue of more than $86,000.
“Of the total skaters we saw this season, we has 12,189 skaters visit from outside of Bridgewater,” Byler said.
The rink was closed for four days this season, but continued to increase in visitors and revenue. The season opened on Thanksgiving Day and ran through the first weekend in March.