After years of planning, Broadway Rose Theatre Co. has officially begun work on an expansion of its New Stage theater.
The expansion will add new studio and rehearsal space, a new costume/enlarged scenic shop and additional administrative offices.
Last week, work crews began tearing down sections of the theater to make room for the expansion. The theater company has occupied its current location since it renovated the former C.F. Tigard Elementary School's cafetorium in 2008.
Dan Murphy, co-owner and managing director at Broadway Rose, said that he and his wife Sharon, the theater's producing artistic director, found that despite the pandemic and no live-audience shows in more than a year, the theater found itself in a strong financial position at the end of 2020.
While Broadway Rose never stopped fundraising for the expansion campaign, the theater company put the groundbreaking on hold, wanting to make sure that once the building was renovated, it would have the people to fill it once the pandemic was over.
"We're into the homestretch, and during 2020, we kept an eye on the finances and everything in the bank, knowing that this day would come," Murphy said. "I think we're entering into another milestone. Not only did we survived the pandemic, but we're able to — once we're back into the saddle and everybody can come in here — we will be bigger, better and stronger than we were before. And more accommodating."
Murphy noted that for the last 25 years, Broadway Rose has been operating in the black, something that not all theaters can claim.
While there was initial discussion on whether to do the expansion in two parts, Murphy said they soon discovered that construction materials weren't getting any cheaper. In the end, after presenting the theater's board with all the facts and figures, the decision was made to move forward with the entire expansion, he said.
That meant on Wednesday, after the old portion of the building that served as the theater's shop had been torn down, a groundbreaking ceremony was held.
"If you were standing at the lobby door to come into the lobby, the (new shop will) be on the left," Murphy said about the layout for the future expansion. "Then to the right, we're building more office offices and the big rehearsal hall."
The actual theater, the lobby and existing offices will all remain intact.
Murphy said the new theater shop will be three times the size of the former shop, containing both scene and costume shops.
The new rehearsal hall or studio space will be used not only for rehearsals but for youth camps and workshops, special events, civic forums, meetings and more.
Space-wise, the hall replicates the footprint of the existing stage, he said.
"We can do more things simultaneously. We can rehearse while they're still building the set," Murphy said.
The space is needed, too, because the New Stage hosts more than only theater programs. It is often used for meetings by the Tigard Chamber of Commerce, Rotary clubs and the Tigard-Tualatin School District, the latter of which is Broadway Rose's landlord.
While $350,000 is still needed to complete the project, Murphy said plans are to continue fundraising efforts, and there are pledges out there that will almost close that remaining amount needed to complete the project.
And even though construction will continue throughout the summer, plans are to have one performance in front of a live audience in July, something that hasn't happened since Feb. 23, 2020.
Plans are for business to continue as normal during construction.
"Ideally, the next show to open after the summer is not until October 1, and by then, the bulk of the of the heavy lifting should be done," Murphy said.
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