Work on a new brick walkway in the gazebo garden at Theatre By The Sea, the nonprofit summer theater company run by the Ocean State Theatre Co. Inc., in South Kingstown, marks the property’s first significant improvement in 20 years.
Don Leighton, a principal with the landscape architectural firm, Gates, Leighton & Associates Inc., based in East Providence, recently began laying out the $25,000 project with the general contractor, Rare Earth Landscaping Inc. of Charlestown. The job is expected to take about a month to complete, Leighton said.
The redesign of the theater’s entrance walk is a project that Leighton puts into the “fun” category. Much of his firm’s actual time on the job is donated; it’s the kind of job, he says, that reflects his firm’s willingness to work with nonprofit community groups. “This is something we’ve always done, throughout our entire career,” said Leighton, who recently moved from Barrington to Narragansett, and is now a neighbor of the theater. With this project, he continued, “we have been offering our time to see it through, to make it come out the way we envision it.”
The project, though small in size, encompassing about 750 square feet, is a very big step for the theater, according to Tom Senter, the business manager of the Ocean State Theatre Co.
The 75-year-old property, a barn structure located at the site of a former girls’ camp, is in need of constant care and attention, Senter says. More than a quarter of the company’s operating budget goes towards keeping the doors open and operating the building.
The garden and the walkway are a major component of “what makes this site one of Rhode Island’s most beloved historical treasures,” explained Amiee Turner, president of the board of directors at Ocean State Theatre Co. There is a commitment, she said, to preserving “the legacy of this extraordinary theater,” as well as producing Broadway-quality shows at affordable prices in South County.