Monday, June 6, 2011

Soulstice Theatre's New Home

Theatre Company Opens to open its tenth season in a new home.

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Soulstice Theatre took great pride in announcing its move from various spaces at the Marian Center. The theatre company, which celebrates its 10th season in 2011/2012 made the big step into its new space this past Sunday with a classy, little reception. There was cheese. There were crackers. There were silent acutions. And there were enough people to fill the spacious place.

In moving from the Marian Center for Nonprofits to a converted warehouse on 3770 S. Pennsylvania Avenue, the company moves just outside of the city into the southern suburb of St. Francis. The neighborhood is virtually identical, though. It’s a very residential neighborhood spackled with a few businesses here and there.

The building itself is not very impressive from the outside, but with enough free parking space to accommodate a full house in the 99-seat theatre, the new space’s location scores considerably over nearly every other space in town.

Soulstice Theatre, which had previously performed in a converted tannery, an old gymnasium and a converted school science lab, among other spaces, finds its home now in a converted warehouse in St. Francis. Soulstice occupies a sizeable portion of the building on the ground floor. Walk into the lobby and it really doesn’t feel like you’re in St. Francis anymore. The hip warehouse conversion feels very much like the performance space at Moct.

There are concrete floors. A big, rolling dock door on one end gives the impression that a car could be parked there in the lobby. (If memory serves, one of the board members told me that the space held a Dodge Viper when they came to look at the space.) A set of industrial-lookingstairs go up to n elevated green room converted from the warehouse offices. It’s a very upscale conversion—a Third Ward kind of feel about the place, which is odd considering the surrounding area feels as much like a folksy, suburban St. Francis as it does. Kind of a fun juxtaposition.

The space beyond the lobby opens up on an impressively large space. The 99-seat theatre with movable molded, plastic chair seating is an interesting change of pace . . . some of the staging of some of Soulstice’s more memorable shows took place in the Marian Center space now known as the Vox Box. Front row seating at any one of those shows gave adudiences an opportunity at a profoundly intense theatre experience. Admittedly, many of the rest of the spaces in the Marian center weren’t that good. Though I did enjoy Chicago in the gymnasium as kind of a strange experience, the auditorium where they did quite a few of their performances left quite a bit to be desired. This new spaceis a big, empty box that could be filled in any of a number of different ways.

The theatre itself is named after the late actor Keith Tamsett—a man influential to Soulstice Theatre who died tragically young just a little while ago. Soulstice Artistic Director Char Manny was in tears as  she delivere the dedication of the space.

One of two new theatres opening for the coming season, both Soulstice Theatre and Nex Act will be staging their 2011/2012 seasons in brand new spaces.

Soulstice’s first show at the new space is Seussical the Musical, which opens July 28th.

For more information on Soulstice Theatre’s new season, check out their website.


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