Stages at The Gordy moved a huge step forward Tuesday when official groundbreaking ceremonies began on the new home for Stages Repertory Theatre. On display were hopes and aspirations that this will mean not only a vast improvement for the theater but an accompanying revitalization of the entire neighborhood.
A number of people showed up for the tented ceremony which began at 9:30 a.m. with addresses from city council member and Mayor Pro Tem Ellen R. Cohen, the managing and artistic directors of Stages, the chairman and president of Stages, Chelsea Ryan McCurdy who got her acting start at Stages and has gone on to co-found Rogue Productions, as well as the jumpstarter of the hour: Russell Gordy who with his wife, Glenda, last year offered to put up $5 million in matching funds in the Stages fund-raising drive for a new theater.
Co-chair of the Capital Campaign Committee, actor/director Sally Edmunson (Ann, Hello Dolly) said after the ceremony: "I've been dreaming of this for almost 40 years. I can finally exhale because I've been holding my breath.
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"I wanted Stages to be able to reach its fullest potential. And at long last we're going to be able to do that. We're going to have the technical and operating support that matches the heart and soul and caliber of the work." She also said she was looking forward to losing the poles in the present location that block sight lines, having a better sound system and getting a new AC system.
With three stages instead of two and additional parking when it moves from 3201 Allen Parkway to the nearby 800 Rosine, there are hopes that Stages can become a tourist destination especially since it will enable the theater to keep crowd-pleasing shows running longer. "Ann could have gone for another month," Edmundson said.
Managing Director Mark Folkes said the number of subscribers has increased by more than 30 percent over last season. And that the capital campaign has already raised $29.5 million of the $32 million it needs for The Gordy.
Artistic Director Kenn McLaughlin got very serious in thanking the Gordys and speaking about the legacy of Stages from the time Ted Swindley, the founder of Stages and author of Always ... Patsy Cline. "This is the twilight moment of the Stages we have known," he said. "Here we are at the intersection of then and next."