By M. Scott Morris
TUPELO – The launch party for Tupelo Community Theatre’s new performance space moved outside at 7 p.m. Thursday.
A spotlight shone on a strip of black that covered the place’s new name.
Moments before the covering was removed, Tracie Conwill, TCT president, said, “If they pull the rope and it doesn’t drop, remember this is live theater. We have a backup plan.”
The plan was three ladders leaning against the building on East Franklin Street just north of BancorpSouth Arena, but they weren’t needed.
The name, TCT Off Broadway, was revealed to a round of applause. Moments later, Conwill prepared to christen the building by striking it with a bottle. People in the crowd stepped back but needn’t have bothered.
“It is a theatrical bottle,” said Tom Booth, TCT executive director.
The TCT Board of Directors picked the name from a list of five that included TCT on Franklin and TCT After Dark. The vote was unanimous for TCT Off Broadway, Conwill said.
Thursday night’s crowd approved, too. George Booth called it clever, and Susan Hyatt thought it apropos, considering the building was only a couple of blocks from the Lyric Theatre on Broadway Street.
“I like the name,” Dr. Jay Dey said. “It makes it feel uptown, New Yorky.”
About 100 people stopped by the launch party. The first performance, “SantaLand Diaries,” a one-man show written by David Sedaris, will be staged Dec. 12-14.
Booth said TCT had been looking for a building to buy in downtown without any luck. TCT Off Broadway is a rental with a two- to five-year lease.
There’s warehouse space in the back, and the front of the building will lend itself to a variety of uses.
Possibilities include staged readings of plays, children’s shows, dinner theater, murder mysteries and improv comedy. It’ll house rehearsals, which should free up the Lyric Theatre for more events.
“This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it’s a step we’ve decided to make,” Booth said. “We’re looking for it to pay for itself. We just need to do things that bring people in.”