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.