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Construction underway on troupe’s new home

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Capital Stage Company expects to finish major construction on its new Midtown theater by the end of the month.

The troupe is putting on its final show on board the Delta King Riverboat. The show, "Or," by New York playwright Liz Duffy Adams, runs through July 17.

At the same time, theater company officials are busy recruiting a few more volunteers to help with the theater’s move and trying to gather the last $65,000 of the $300,000 construction budget, company co-founder and Producing Director Jonathan Williams said.

To save money, Williams is serving as the project manager. They’ve also gotten materials, skills and time donated. He estimated the project – which will turn an old gun shop at 2215 J St. into a 125-seat modern theater – would otherwise have cost closer to $500,000.

"This really is a grass-roots community project," he said.

The professional theater troupe has been based on the Delta King, a paddle wheel boat docked on the Sacramento River, since 2005.

Williams and the company’s two other founders, Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte and Marketing Director Peter Mohrmann, want to increase the troupe’s visibility by moving to busy J Street in Midtown.

Founders and others involved with the company are already feeling nostalgic about leaving the group’s first home. But they want to take the theater – and the theater experience – to the next level, Williams said.

"We had a great six years growing up as a theater company," he said. "But now, it’s time for us to have our own home. It’s time to move out."

The boat’s theater has a lot of charm. However, the experience of going to the theater was shared with the experience of being on the boat.

Moving provides a chance to design and control the entire theater experience from the moment patrons walk in the door, Williams added.

On Friday, Williams oversaw work under way at the new building, where the main theater space is taking shape behind a stud framework.

The smell of freshly cut lumber hung in the air as he pointed out dressing rooms and a backstage area being built just off-stage.

The troupe was able to forgo hiring a general contractor after Williams became an authorized agent of the building’s owner. He also has done a lot of work himself alongside subcontractors.

The building’s interior was gutted: Bathrooms, walls, ceilings and gun safes were torn out. New plumbing has been added, and a new heating and air conditioning system is being installed. The electrical system is getting a major upgrade to be able to handle theatrical lighting.

About a dozen theater patrons, actors and other artists in the theater community have been volunteering almost daily. They’ve helped with such things as laying concrete, framing walls, cleaning and moving.

Major construction on the interior will be finished by July 31. Then sound, lighting and seats will be added in August, Williams said.

The ticket window will be just inside the front door. A long hallway will lead past the stage to a lobby in the back of the building. An adjacent patio will be worked on in the second phase of construction.

Potential donors will get the chance to check out the new space next month. Much fundraising is done through the group’s website. The theater troupe’s board of directors and a campaign committee are seeking sizable donations from major corporations through individual meetings, grant applications and other means.

Rehearsal on next season’s first show, “Superior Donuts” by Tracy Letts, begins in September. The show will open Oct. 7.

With the theater in its rough frame stage, the company needs more volunteers than ever and those needs change daily, Williams said. People can volunteer through the troupe’s website.

"It’s an exciting point in the project," Williams said. "It’s not until you get to this stage that you get to say now things are really starting to happen."


Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt. 

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