SHU Leases Downtown Community Theater

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BY LOUIS FREY
Assistant News Editor

Last May, Sacred Heart announced the university signed a 10-year lease with Kleban Properties for the Fairfield Community Theater.

Events such as high profile lectures, author talks, unique films, concerts and performances will be held at the theater. It will also host the work of Sacred Heart’s dance, orchestra, band, choir, theater arts and film students.

“I’m excited that there will be a second performance location, as the Edgerton Center is always booked. Now we can have even more opportunities to get artists and speakers at SHU,” said Theater Arts Program Vice President Jake Doble.

The theater is currently under renovation, but is set to open its doors to Sacred Heart students and the Fairfield community in 2020, just in time for its 100th anniversary.

“I think it’s great that we are able to have a piece of Sacred Heart in downtown Fairfield. It’s a great area and gives reason for students to spend more time there,” said Doble.

The theater will be another place where students will gain knowledge and experience.

“The theater speaks to the university’s core mission, providing a state-of-the-art space for academic exploration and experiential learning in the arts and humanities,” said Mike Iannazzi, vice president of marketing and communications.

The lease of the community theater shows students that the arts have Sacred Heart’s support.

“I think this additional theater is a step in the right direction. I really hope Sacred Heart continues to think about their art students and support us so that we can pursue it after school,” said Doble.   

“Students will also be involved in the management of the site, gaining vital experience in operating an arts venue,” said Iannazzi.

Some are taking notice of how valuable the community theater can be.

“I think it gives the Arts students an opportunity to really immerse themselves in their field at a more professional level. It opens the door for more opportunities for current and future students,” said Vice President of Senate, Steven Lucero.

The students are who the university was thinking of when the theater was tenured.

“We purchased the theater with the needs of our students in mind, in particular the need for a modern, mid-sized venue where students can showcase their talents,” said Iannazzi.

The renovated theater will consist of at least 400 seats and new equipment.

“We will restore the theater to a first-class entertainment venue while staying faithful to its original art-deco style. We will install state-of-the-art equipment that will allow us to show films and stream live performances from the theater and into the theater. We’ll renovate it to allow small scale theatrical performances as well as lectures and discussions,” said Iannazzi.

Other renovations include a luxury balcony with dining tables and a lobby with concession stands.

The theater was originally opened in 1920 as a movie house. It was also a place for stage performers, but in the 1970s it was repurposed to serve solely as a movie theater.

After that, the theater saw a slow decline. Over the past 40 years, the theater struggled under various owners. At times it has been for profit and at others a nonprofit. Most recently, it has been closed for several years, having been unable to stay afloat.

Now Sacred Heart is taking the opportunity to bring the theater back, further bolstering the arts in the Fairfield community.

“We are so excited to bring it back as a prominent landmark in the center of Fairfield,” said Iannazzi.

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