NEW ULM - At 2:46 p.m. on July 2, 2014 the New Ulm Actors Community Theatre (NUACT) signed a two-year lease with Cenate LLC, the owners of the former middle school, for use of the auditorium.
The lease agreement requires NUACT to make monthly rent payments to Cenate as well as share a percentage of the net revenues.
This transaction gives the theater group its first official home in its 36-year history.
Staff photo by Clay Schuldt
The Rev. Hank Campbell of the United Church of Christ in New Ulm speaks at the dedication of a tree planted in memory of Bobbi McCrea who was an early proponent of finding a permanent home for community theater in New Ulm. The tree, a sugar maple on the right, was planted in front of the former middle school, which houses the auditorium now leased to New Ulm Actors Community Theatre.
NUACT Chairperson Judy Sellner said that community theater went back even farther to the very founding of New Ulm. "We needed a stage." she said.
A housewarming was held for the NUACT's new theater. This event also gave the public a chance to see the new, blue, padded seats in the auditorium, which replaced the old wooded seats that dated back to WPA days. The middle section is complete, and the balcony seats will soon follow.
Many of the old seats were sold to people associated with the former school who wanted a memento. NUACT Executive Director Paul Warshauer said that some of the chairs were sent to people as far away as Indiana and Wyoming.
NUACT intends to renovate the auditorium in a few years. Warshauer explained the theater will be forming its own limited liability company named 5N after the auditorium's address at 5 N. State Street. Warshauer said NUACT hopes to eventually purchase the auditorium and have the rest of the building converted into apartments.
The Housewarming celebration closed with a special memorial for Bobbi McCrea.
McCrea was instrumental in NUACT's development and was one of the early proponents of finding a permanent theater. McCrea perished in a house fire three years ago on July 2. The signing of the lease was scheduled to honor McCrea.
Friends and family honored McCrea by planting a sugar maple tree on the lawn in front of the former school. The sugar maple tree was chosen because its autumn leaves would be the brightest colors, matching McCrea's personality. The ceremony was officiated by the Rev. Hank Campbell and included the song "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the musical Carousel, sung by Jodi Poehler.
NUACT's first official performance in the new theater will be a production of "Fiddler on the Roof," which will run July 24 through July 27.
With NUACT in possession of theater, Sellner said. "Now we need community support to come to the plays."
Those looking for play tickets or volunteer opportunities can contact the theater office.