Volunteers needed for Centre Theater ‘demolition party’ in Norristown

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As part of the ambitious renovations to the Centre Theater in Norristown, a "demolition party" will be held the weekend of June 15. Volunteers are needed to help clear out the space to make room for new theater seats, a movie screen, and other improvements. (Photo courtesy of Centre Theater.)

The Centre Theater in Norristown is about to put on its greatest production.

It’s been nearly four years since the board of directors that is now in place first started digging into the troubles at the venerable space at 208 DeKalb St. A lightning strike had knocked out the fire suppression system, and unfortunately, the insurance on the building had lapsed, the mortgage was behind and there were stacks of bills to the electric company, according to a press release.

But that was then, and this is now.

The theater will be having a demolition party the weekend of June 15 and 16. Volunteers are needed on Saturday June 16. We’ll get started at 10 a.m. If you love to break things, email centretheater@gmail.com.

The former Odd Fellows building, where Mark Twain once performed, is about to be transformed, just as Cinderella was transformed and married her Prince Charming.

The fourth floor has been home to a “black box” theater since the building was purchased by the Greater Norristown Society for the Arts, with productions being staged by Iron Age Theatre and Centre Theater’s own production company.

But that was then, and this is now.

Thanks to local architects Seiler and Drury, when the curtain rises again the space will have morphed from banquet chairs to 130 bolted-down, real theater seats. Back stage will be widened to allow for the construction of sets and a “green room” will be established.

To pull off such a feat, a feat of Cinderella proportions, stage hands from across the region are coming together.

The Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Council is taking a leading role by establishing a line of credit to make the transformation possible. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW 98) has already played a supporting role, bringing the space up to code and more, all on a volunteer basis. Tom Lepera from IBEW98, has been auditioning some local carpenters and they’ll be providing the labor to build the new risers, all volunteer. Zone Catering has donated all of the food and beverage for the most recent productions to help jump start the project, and will stay on once the transformation is complete, guaranteeing patrons a good time before the show goes on.

And then of course, there’s you.

The residents of Montgomery County and beyond will be the deciding factor in the success of the theater. The theater needs your support. Please go to thecentretheater.com and click on the “To Make A Donation…” link in the left navigation bar.

A movie screen will be installed as well. That’s right, movies are coming back to Norristown! The space will also be available for rentals for lectures, comedy nights, Saturday morning kids movies, and just about any other event that will help sustain the building and the theater for years to come. Free performances by the Vance Community Partners Veterans Music School, which is couple just a couple of blocks away from the theater. We will continue to offer the space to civic groups interested in public discourse, similar to the Norristown Rising Series once put on by The Times Herald.

All the world is indeed a stage, and the stage at the Centre Theater is ready to be transformed into a space that all of Montgomery County can be proud of.

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