By Sheena Barnett
TUPELO – Where some may see a mostly empty building, Tom Booth sees opportunities.
The Tupelo Community Theatre executive director has been working on a new theater space in addition to TCT’s home on Broadway Street at The Lyric. The new 4,500-square-foot space has room for a theater and event space in the front and a warehouse in the back.
“The seating will be – and this is a word we’re using often with this space – eclectic,” Booth said. “It’s not your traditional TCT.”
TCT is hosting a launch party for the new space on Nov. 7, with music, champagne punch, food and a cash bar. The name for the new space will be revealed that night at 7 p.m.
The new space, located behind the BancorpSouth Arena at 213 East Franklin St., will allow for a variety of shows that may not fit into TCT’s regular season, like dinner theaters, murder mysteries or children’s productions, as well as parties, workshops or other small events.
TCT has already booked its first production for the new space: a one-man Christmas show, “SantaLand Diaries,” written by David Sedaris. The one-act play, starring Todd Barnett, will be at the new space Dec. 12-14.
TCT had a warehouse location before but usually had to rent or borrow extra space for rehearsals or auditions as shows, auditions and rehearsals overlapped. Now, auditions and rehearsals can move to the new space, opening up The Lyric for even more opportunities.
“It may allow us more productions at The Lyric, like allow us to book concerts, touring shows or regular theatrical shows that may not fit into our season,” he said.
Booth has already taken advantage of the 2,500-square-foot warehouse space in the back of the new building, filling it with furniture and other props.
When TCT renovated its balcony earlier this year, it sold half the seats but kept the other half, and those are being used in the new space.
The new location can house 75-125 seats, Booth said.
The new location was a lighting store, so there are already built-in track lights, as well as restrooms.
Booth took inspiration from Baldwyn Main Street Players and Starkville Community Theatre for the new building.
“They have very small theater spaces and have been very successful,” he said.
Booth and other TCT workers have been sprucing up the space, painting and ripping up linoleum.
It’s almost all set for the opening party next week.
“I want it to be useable – no fear,” Booth said. “What can we do in here?”