After years of performing at different venues, the Contemporary Theater Co. has found a permanent home in downtown Wakefield, and local tourism and business organizations believe the move is of significant importance to the revitalization of the South Kingstown village.
On Jan. 10, the theater company announced plans to expand into a space at 323 Main St., known for years locally as the home of the Hera Gallery. The company will also keep their existing studio at South County Commons, where the nonprofit will expand its programming. The studio opened in April 2010.
The venue is being renovated to accommodate 90 patrons and will include a lobby, a new entrance, new utilities, workspaces and handicapped-accessible restrooms added by property owners Carl and Kenneth Tetzner. The footprint of the single-story, 1,800-square-foot building will remain unchanged. Ultimately, their plan is to overhaul other buildings on the property, adding retail space and expanding Phil’s Restaurant, a local landmark. Their grand opening is slated for July 6, with the Rhode Island premiere of the farce “Is He Dead?” by Mark Twain.
“It’s a very exciting step for us,” said Christopher J. Simpson, the group’s founder and artistic director. The CTC was named the best theater company in 2011 by The Providence Phoenix. “We’ve had a really good streak lately, and we think this is the step to take to further solidify those successes.”
Myrna George, president of the South County Tourism Council, views the theater company’s acquisition of a new and permanent facility as a substantial asset. “Anytime we can offer the opportunity for live theater, I think that enlarges our repertoire of engagement when people visit,” she said. “We commonly go out to trade shows and are often marketing what can be done during the shoulder seasons, and theater is among many of our charms.”