Sacré-Cœur Community Theater gears up for next act in Fairfield



FAIRFIELD – It has been a long and much anticipated revival, but soon the curtain will once again rise on the historic downtown Fairfield landmark when it comes to entertainment.

The Sacré-Cœur University Community Theater is starting a new number this spring, thanks to a partnership between Kleban Properties, which is renovating the space with the help of a tax abatement from the city, and the university. SHU has a 10-year lease and intends to make this place a non-profit creative, educational and cultural center.

“This is literally the prime location in town,” said Bill Harris, director of the theater, as well as assistant professor in the media and communications department and producer in residence at the Sacré-Coeur.

“Construction is almost complete,” he said, with just a few design elements to be completed in the coming weeks.

While there is already a virtual theatrical presence in place, he said a “smooth opening weekend” on March 19 will lead to the new era for the venue.

The date, he said, coincides with the state’s easing of some COVID-related restrictions, with performance venues finally being allowed to expand to 50% of their capacity.

“I suspect the audience will slowly increase as they become more comfortable,” Harris said. “My hope and belief is that by the end of March the doors will be open for good.”

First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick hosted the renovated theater.

“It has been a long journey to see this restored historic monument in the heart of our downtown core, and we are grateful for the work of many people to bring us to this important milestone,” she said.

Coupled with the Fairfield Theater Company and the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University, she said the new venue “further solidifies Fairfield’s reputation as a hub for arts, culture and entertainment.”

The community theater opened around 1920 as a vaudeville stage, then later became a movie theater with both commercial and independent ownership, Kupchick said.

For almost a decade, after a seemingly permanent closure in 2011, the building was empty before Kleban’s purchase and restoration as the Kleban Family Building.

Harris said a wide range of work has been completed over the past year.

“Everything from the foundation to the roof is brand new, state of the art,” he said.

In addition to the repackaging of the iconic marquee, the interior has been gutted and redesigned with an enlarged stage and a new balcony that includes a ‘skybox’ conference room available for parties or classroom use.

“We are very pleased with the opening of SHU Fairfield Community Theater,” said Beverly Balaz, president of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce. “The restoration of the iconic building and place is breathtakingly beautiful.”

She said it would attract people from surrounding towns, as well as Fairfield.

“Ticket holders can decide to dine before or after a show, or take a stroll for ice cream or some shopping along the way,” she said, welcoming the various events and activities that will become available to them. increase commerce in the city center.

The theater offers opportunities for recorded media and live performances, as well as educational opportunities for all ages, including potential Broadway masterclasses and industry professionals, Harris said.

They envision unique opportunities, like attending real Broadway rehearsals or private performances, as well as free after-school programming for young people.

“The vision we have is truly a multi-purpose place,” said Harris, with first-run films and classic films being part of an ongoing initiative to celebrate 100 years of cinema.

“It will be really, I believe, dynamic, and will bring a wide variety of entertainment choices,” he said.

He also noted the history of the theater within the community.

“We are the guardians of a hundred-year-old heritage,” he said. “So many generations have grown up with the theater as part of their entertainment (and) everyone wants it to be a success. Everyone can’t wait to relive some of it. “

Among them, Marie Muhvic, president of the foundation of the theater.

“I’m nostalgic, so I like the idea of ​​this central building keeping the center stage and keeping its location, but bringing it up to date and saying, ‘Let’s go for another 100 years,’” Muhvic said. . “And clearly Fairfield (a) the type of people who seem to enjoy the arts, culture, music, performance, spoken word – whatever it is – coming together in the center of town.”

This story has been updated to correctly identify the part of the theater that Marie Muhvic said was not moved during the renovation.



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