Sipe Center Takes Shape

Daily News-Record  7/10/19
BRIDGEWATER — What started as plain construction walls now has a fresh coat of “downrush midnight” paint.
Bridgewater Town Manager Jay Litten gave a tour of the construction site for the town’s new $ 1.3 million multipurpose theater Tuesday, giving council members and visitors a fresh glimpse of the interior and exterior of the Sipe Center.
In his report to Town Council, Litten said the building continues to progress toward an early August completion, remaining on track to have its grand opening Nov. 1.
“It will come together in the next month or so,” Litten said Tuesday.
The center will hold council meetings, with a new table designed in Philadelphia offering an open layout and allowing council members to see visitors more easily. Litten said the table is finished and is expected to be shipped soon.
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 it is possible a projector will be installed next week.
There will be 155 theater seats with the same type of seat that is inside of a Lincoln Navigator, according to Litten. There will be handicapped seating available.
The walls in the theater area will be a dark blue color with a carpet-like textile, according to Litten.
The front of the building will hold the lobby and concessions, which the town plans to staff with two people.
Litten said in a previous tour that he is hopeful the center will operate without too many employees.
The ceiling of the lobby is covered with a gray textile that adds a new depth of character to the multipurpose theater.
The Sipe Center is positioned 15 feet away from the street, making it farther than the original building.
Litten said he wanted it to be 20 feet, but the cost was too much to expand the additional 5 feet.
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 yet been made.
Litten said there is a possibility of having a streaming service located in the lobby to show the performers, but it was not part of the original setup.
The custom-made “downrush midnight” paint to be used primarily in the control room resembles a dark blue with a Bridgewater touch.
Council approved plans for the $1.3 million theater Aug. 30 after purchasing the property at the end of 2017.
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.
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 Diary 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.
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The center also will be home to a movie theater showing second-run films three to four evenings a week.
Assistant Town Manager Alex 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 signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, allowing the town to avoid applying for a one-time event licenses to serve alcohol.