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Living in Hanover

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Theatre Stories

September 13, 2012 | 4 Comments

I felt bad that I could not attend the Friends of the Hanover State Theatre event last Saturday. Blame American Airlines for delaying my flight back from the West Coast Friday night so I didn’t arrive in Baltimore until 4 a.m. and get into Hanover until 6 a.m., thereby rending me useless for most of Saturday.

Pretty much everyone agrees that 39 Frederick Street needs more than some tender loving care. Renovation of the old theatre can help Hanover in so many ways – providing jobs, stimulating other projects and merely giving the area a boost of pride.

But I hope this entire effort doesn’t fall prey to tunnel vision. One paragraph in the newspaper story gave me pause:

But the group believes the theater should not only play movies. Members also plan for the theater to be a home for live stage performances, including dance and music. The group also discussed using the space for offices.

On the bright side, they realize that a single use should not be determined before the initial step of simply buying the site to begin renovations. On the other hand, I personally don’t think this widens the scope of the project enough.

We have all seen movie theatres come and go. I just don’t see the viability of a small downtown movie house. Skipping to the last one, the area has a bunch of downtown offices either completed or in progress. Which focuses me on the middle intention.

A theatre sits a few blocks away which has had troubles off and on for years. Sure, maybe combining some live performances with movies like the Majestic in Gettysburg does might work, but I don’t think that’s a certainty.

Besides, Hanover already has plenty of places “where local bands, musicians, playwrights and poets” can perform to take some language from the FOHST’s own website. Sure, a lot of the music is in bars, but I don’t think there are any shortage of performance venues around town.

Maybe it’s because I’m now on the board of Hanover’s only all-volunteer community theatre (the Hanover Little Theatre – Nunsense opens tonight and continues through next weekend – get tickets at www.hanoverlittletheatre.com), but I blanch when I hear that we need a theatre. We have a theatre. We have two actually counting the Eichelberger. We have places for musicians, poets and actors.

A friend sent me a link today to a web story on bookstores that have been opened in spaces previously used for other things. I loved it. I’m don’t think the The Reader’s Cafe needs a competitor, but when we see the inside of an old theatre, we need to think beyond its prior use.

Don’t think I’m rooting against the FOHST. I really, really want them to succeed. I just think we need to consider something besides entertainment. Maybe in the long run a plan will come together with a professional management company who will provide all sorts of great entertainment without cutting into the many options already out there. But I hope the Friends consider all other kinds of possibilities because I’d hate for the project to falter because we find out we don’t need that use in town.

4 people are talking about “Theatre Stories

  1. Let me say first that I love this blog and usually agree with what I read here.
    That being said, please allow me to disagree on one point here.
    I think Hanover sorely LACKS good places for bands to play, especially since the death of KClinger’s Tavern.

    Aside from the Winner’s Circle, (which is renovating to try to provide a nicer space for live music in 2013) I can’t think of many (really any) reliable, stable, well run venues in Hanover (barring the private clubs which are more difficult to gain entrance to)
    After doing this for over 30 years, I have a little experience in gig booking and I still have to go to MD or Gettysburg, York or Harrisburg (my point, OUTSIDE of town) to play a show at a reliable, “prepared” place.

    The Hanover Theater, if run correctly, has the potential to offer local music (since that’s what we’re talking about)at an AFFORDABLE price…and that’s key.

    Knowing some of the folks who look to be involved in this cause long term. It’s safe to say that this would be a goal of the group.
    If I am missing a venue in Hanover Borough that rivals (or comes close) KClinger’s professionalism, preparedness, set up and drawing power for local music, PLEASE, please let me know.
    Just my two cents.
    Thanks.

    • Raye – thanks for the kind words and disagreement when done this like is exactly what I want. Anyway, you are the expert on the music scene so I will defer to you. I guess as a potential consumer, I see lots of music out there, but I don’t know about things like booking at a social club vs. at a bar or other place. I also guess, the more I think about it, that there is a narrow kind of music that does really well so maybe there is some music, but could be more. I have always thought that music would be the best fit for the theatre and maybe hope I am proved wrong there.

      And Henry, I see what you’re saying about people traveling out of town to see certain events, but is it a critical mass who would do it regularly here? Would the cost of attracting those kinds of shows outstrip the potential revenue? Do the people who do that do it a lot or just once in a while? Raye pointed out affordable, which is what we all want, but will affordable shows pay off a $500,000 mortgage, renovations, staff, upkeep, etc.? That’s where one of my concerns comes in because entertainment is fickle.

      Like I said, I am rooting for them. I’m know they have great people who are dedicated and caring, but I sat at the table during the visioning thing and heard more than one person say things like, “We need the theatre so we can have a place where we can have plays.” I just worry that the sentimental choice may override a wider glance at what can be done there.

      • Thanks Brian, I appreciate the opportunity to chime in!
        Like I said, I always read this blog and have come to look forward to new entries.
        I enjoy your perspective and I hope you keep writing it for a long time to come!

        Take care!

  2. I agree with Raye. I think a feasibility study would show that the people of Hanover do not want to always drive to Gettysburg or Frederick or York or further to see special movies, professional plays, drama and musical, or to see musical groups that travel to larger venues than currently available in Hanover. The draft business plan from which Friends may be developing a vision includes a wide variety of performance training and types of musical performance, perhaps some varieties of music that have rarely, if ever, been offered at the two small theatre venues (not familiar with any music at Hanover Little). Again, a feasibility study would provide direction regarding Hanover’s ability to host three different types of theatres.

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