Grand Theatre/Monroe, NJ

Courier-Post

Wednesday October 27, 2010

Monroe acting troupe plots a revival for Grand Theatre

By Lucas K. Murray

In its early years, the Grand Theatre on South Main Street hosted visitors who could watch a film featuring the biggest Hollywood names of the 1920s and ’30s.

But in the age of the multiplex, single-screen movie houses fell out of favor, many of them rehabilitated by local theater troupes as performance spaces.

That’s the case with the Grand and the Road Company Theater, a nonprofit that owns and runs the theater.

The group had to take its show on the road after the roof of the Grand — a fixture in Williamstown since 1924 — collapsed in May. It was the victim of an aging roof and a winter that brought record-breaking snowfall to the region.

Now the theater group wants to rebuild and plans to stage benefit performances of a musical in November to help raise funds.

"We’ve contacted several architects basically to get a quote from them for the rebuild," Lani Campagno, vice president of the nonprofit company, said of plans for the building’s future.

"We’re working on it — it’s just a long process."

The lobby and its concession stand are intact, as is a lighting booth and the theater’s iconic sign. Much of the interior, however, is a loss. The back wall of the theater came down and is now sealed with plywood and plastic tarps.

Getting the theater up and running — along with bringing it into compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act — will take significant capital, Campagno explained. The structure had been grandfathered in and not subject to ADA standards.

"It was an old, historical theater," she explained. "It still had tin ceilings and ornate work on the walls. Now it has to be overhauled and we want to have it be one cohesive building that ties the old with the new together as one.’

Insurance funds will cover only a portion of the reconstruction. To help supplement the insurance, the Road Company is launching the Make It Grand Again campaign, which will kick off with fundraising performances of "Urinetown: The Musical," Nov. 18 to 20 at Williamstown Middle School.

Reach Lucas K. Murray at (856) 486-2476 or lkmurray

IF YOU GO

The Road Company’s production of ‘Urinetown: The Musical’ to benefit the Make it Grand Again campaign will take place at 8 p.m. Nov. 18 to 20 at Williamstown Middle School, 561 Clayton Road. Tickets are $20 and are available at the door, online at www.roadcompany.com or by calling (856) 728-2120.

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