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Civic Theater Finds New Home

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Civic Theater finds new home

By Roger Le Lievre


The Ann Arbor Civic Theater has a new home base. Negotiations have been completed for purchase of the Elk’s Club building at 338 S. Main.

Purchase price was not revealed.

According to David Gilbert, AACT treasurer, performances will continue at the Mendelssohn Theater on the University of Michigan campus, but the theater group will move its costume and set-making operations, box office, meetings, rehearsals and storage facilities to the new building.

The Elk’s Club will rent the basement of the structure for its meetings and bingo games, said Gilbert.

He said rehearsals for AACT’s upcoming musical “Kiss Me Kate” may be moved to the Elk’s building sometime this week. Gilbert added that he hopes eventually the facility can be remodeled so some performances could be staged there. A large open room with a high ceiling on the second floor would be ideal he said.

Gilbert added that although enough money has been raised to finance the downpayment on the building, a considerable amount is needed to complete payment. A fund drive will be launched in the near future, he said.

AMONG OPTIONS being considered by the relocated ACCT could be the addition of more performances per year and perhaps a dinner or dessert theater. Gilbert said the new facility was needed because membership is growing rapidly and more space was required.

Originally the group had been vying for the old Ann Arbor Fire Hall, a bid which AACT dropped after it became evident that there would not be enough room for both the theater and the children’s Hands-On Museum.

The Michigan Theater was also considered, he said, but also has no room for storage, meetings, set construction or costume-making.

The Ann Arbor Civic Theater has between 300 and 400 members this year, said Gilbert. The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary this past June.

For 17 years, civic theatre has been located in the Civic Theater Workshop Building on Mulholland Street. The group plans to continue to use that site for its scene shop, at least temporarily, and rent space to other performing groups.

Eventually the building will be sold.

“As one board member put it, ‘We’re moving out of the alley and on to Main Street,’ ” Gilbert added.

Elk’s Club building on Main Street is AACT’s new home