After more than a year of performing wherever it could find the space, the Brookings Harbor Community Theater has found a new home in the bright yellow building that formerly housed John’s Produce in Harbor.
The public is invited to explore the new building and imagine its potential at an open house from noon to 3 p.m. today. The address is 15542 U.S. 101.
“We are so happy to have found a place that we can transform into the community theater we’ve always wanted,” said Lynette McPherson, president of the BHCT board of directors. “This is a new, exciting step for BHCT, and we want everyone to be involved from the very beginning. We want them to see the what it looks like now and catch our vision for what it will become.”
Past donors to the nonprofit got a sneak preview Thursday evening to ponder what might take place where.
The main building is comprised of two large rooms, one of which has an upstairs apartment with a rear deck. It’s in the early stages of demolition to make one 1,500-square-foot theater space. A second room is connected via a breezeway. A toilet is in one small room, a bath and sink in another.
But the possibilities seemed to fit precisely with the needs of a theater, those touring the building agreed Thursday.
A deep stage could go at the north end, where a rear garage door — already in place — would make it easy to deliver large props. Steep risers can be built when the upstairs apartment is removed, so everyone gets a great view.
The new bathrooms could go here, the concessions stand there; the lawn in the backyard could be great for small concerts, weddings or summer night-time movie showings. The smaller building could be a perfect green room.
The organization hopes to hold a soft-opening in October and be fully underway after a grand opening to the public.
But there’s a lot of work to be done in the interim.
Three restrooms need to be built. A proper stage needs to be built, as do sound-proofed risers. The electrical system needs to be brought up to code, an elevated booth for sound and lights needs to be built and eventually, heating and air conditioning should be installed. It all costs money, too.
The old theater
There’s plenty of parking, unlike the location the theater formerly occupied in the Brookings Harbor Shopping Center, where the BHCT operated for eight years. New owners of the shopping center hiked the rent for most tenants making it prohibitive for the community theater to stay.
The last performance there was the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” in February 2017.
The theater group is a nonprofit organization dependent on ticket and concession sales, donations and grants, and does not charge people to participate in its productions. It has provided plays and performance activities for youth, teens and adults since founder Dori Randall established it in 2008. Randall died of cancer in May 2016 at the age of 59.
After it left the shopping center, BHCT staged plays at local schools and the Grange in Harbor while searching for a permanent space. Finding an adequate building with enough parking proved challenging, but BHCT signed a lease Monday with owners John and Gail Hedding, long-time locals in Brookings who now live in Los Angeles.
“We are so happy to help keep the theater stay in business,” Gail said. “We think this will be a fantastic use for our building.”
The theater board also received help and insight from long-time supporters David Allen of State Farm Insurance in Harbor, and Michael George of Re/Max Coast and Country Real Estate. It received a generous donation earlier this month from Brookings residents David Miesner and Betty Sue Reed.
Jim McLennan of McLennan Contractors donated labor and supplies for one part of the renovation and provided a steep discount for additional work. Curry Transfer and Recycling donated a Dumpster, Larry Austin of Austin Electric will disconnect outlets and fixtures. Many items from the demolition will be repurposed to build things such as a sound booth and snack bar, McPherson said.
Eventually, BHCT may rent out the space for community meetings, presentations, wedding receptions and other live performances to generate additional revenue.
“We have a lot of plans for this building,” McPherson said, “but it’s going to take a little time and some additional donations from the community to help us realize our full potential.”
Prospective sponsors are encouraged to contact McPherson at 541-661-0736. People can send donations by mail at PO Box 6172, Brookings OR 97415. Those who want to become a sustaining member can donate as little as $10 a month at the secure website: www.patreon.com/BHCT.
Light snacks and refreshments will be served at today’s open house, and donations will gladly be accepted.