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Jaffrey

Park Theatre reaches out to towns

Trustees offer 375-seat building, slated for completion in 2015, as spot for events

  • Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films.

    Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films.

    Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films.

    Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films.
  • Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films.
  • Members of the Jaffrey Park Theater Board of Trustees met with the Temple Select Board on Tuesday to discuss possible larger-reaching benefits to an area theater for stage shows and films.

TEMPLE — As the Jaffrey Park Theatre closes in on the last portion of funding needed to rebuild the theater, members of the Board of Trustees have been approaching local town Select Boards about the advantages the building could bring to the region as a whole.

“We think it will be an economic boom for the area,” said Trustee Kevin Hampsey during Temple’s Select Board meeting Tuesday. “As an example, when you go to ski at Crotched Mountain, you don’t just spend money at Crotched. You buy meals, or gas on your way through.” The theater trustees have estimated that within the first year, there will be 26,000 people who come to the theater.

The historic theater was torn down this fall, and will be rebuilt in an art deco style and back open for business in the spring of 2015. Originally, said Trustee John Sepe, the hope was to restore the theater that had been part of the community since it was converted from an old barn and residence in the 1920s and operated through the 1970s. However, building code and mold issues proved too great an obstacle, and the solution was to rebuild from scratch.

Trustees salvaged what they could from the original building, including historic murals of Mount Monadnock from the 1940s, memorabilia from the home of the theater’s original owner Romulo Vanni.

“Anytime you can bring bodies in, it’s a positive,” said Hampsey. The area’s big tourist draws — such as leaf peepers or those looking to climb Mount Monadnock — don’t lend themselves to extended stays in the area. Anything which might boost that draw and give incentive to travelers to stay for a weekend instead of the day will help to boost other local businesses such as restaurants and inns, said Hampsey. Since the theater will be run as a non-profit, it will need rental fees to help meet budget costs.

Hampsey told the board that the trustees are looking to make the Jaffrey Park Theater a destination not only for Jaffrey residents, but for those across the Monadnock region. The building will be able to support both live shows and films when it is completed. At a maximum, the building will be able to support 375 seats. Some seats will be fixed, while others can be folded back to create an open space for a dance floor or an area for stage creation. There will also be an orchestra pit for live musical accompaniment.

The theater eventually hopes to host professional music, film and stage events, explained Sepe, including projecting nationally broadcast performances including an opera series similar to the one currently provided by the Peterborough Player’s Theater. But the trustees are also seeking to support community events. The theater will be available for rental for school performances, for example, for a nominal fee, or for local theater groups. They will also be showing films, although the costs associated will likely prevent them from showing current releases, said Ueda. There may still be opportunities to show recent releases, as well as older films, she added.

Trustee Peggy Ueda told the board that in the past several years, there have been towns that commissioned studies to look at the art needs of the region, both of which suggested a need for a midsize theater to fill the gap between the smaller Peterborough Players’ Theater in Peterborough and the Colonial Theater in Keene. Peterborough, for example, recently discussed transforming the town armory into an arts center, and the ConVal School District has also discussed the need for an arts center.

“When people say, ‘We need a new amphitheater,’ we can say, we have it here,” said Hampsey.

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