NORWALK, Conn. – The Wall Street Theater is on track to offer its first show on April 1, Suzanne Cahill said Tuesday, as workers bustled around her.
The stage will be installed by the end of this month and the interior work should be completed by March 17, said Cahill, Wall Street Theater president. Sounds and lights will be installed in the last two weeks of February.
That is, indeed, behind schedule – developer Frank Farricker had originally predicted that the theater would be open a year ago, then amended it to November.
Farricker, in September, attributed the delay to unforeseen issues.
“We made some changes to the design,” Farricker said. “We had a slow down for three months because we discovered that there were areas in the building that required structural steel, that we were hoping it wouldn’t be the case, but were. So, our engineers had to redesign the structural components of the building.”
The theater was originally opened in 1915 and is a National Historic Landmark, having been called, at various times, The Regent, The Norwalk Theater, The Globe Theater and The Roxy.
The Wall Street Theater will literally be state of the art, while retaining an old theater feel because the wiring – 360 conduits – are underground, or up through the walls, Farricker said.
“It’s like a small production facility,” Farricker said. “…Every show can be recorded. There are fixed and movable camera positions throughout the house.”
Because the Wall Street Theater is a nonprofit, the Connecticut Education Network (CEN) is providing it with gigabyte of Internet access, and, “We can stream anything that is recorded here, boom, boom, boom. If there is an event, stream it to another location we can do it instantaneously,” he said.
In addition, there will be “plug and play” television production equipment in the parking lot, he said.
“If you wanted to have a presidential debate here we would be equipped for that,” Farricker said. “If channel 12 wanted to have something here, they literally don’t have to do anything they could download our feed, up the street.”
Two Norwalk-based companies are involved in the rehab, Theater Projects and Jaffe Holden, he said, describing them both as number one in the country for what they do.
The theater’s vintage windows were being rehabbed, he said, and the gaps in the façade filled in with authentic 100-year-old bricks, matching what’s there, he said.
Cahill, on Tuesday, said workers need to finish the floor. It will be painted concrete, she said. The theater will offer off-Broadway productions, dance and opera, and “livestream them anywhere in the world.”
The theater recently hired Billy Blanks Jr. as its artistic director. Blanks has had roles “as a dancer in music videos with Paula Abdul, Madonna, Crystal Method, Quincy Jones, and Babyface,” a press release said.
“His credits also include TV appearances on American Dreams with Alicia Keys, The Practice, Sister Sister, Kids Incorporated, Homeboys From Outer Space, My Cousin Skeeter, and The Tonight Show. Billy starred as Tyrone Jackson in the US and Europe touring company of the Broadway musical Fame. Billy went on to direct and choreograph the WeSparkle Take II Celebrity Concert with Tom Hanks, Jason Alexander, Brian Cranston, Joey Lawrence, Britney Spears, Michael Chiklis, Hal Sparks, the cast of Will & Grace, and more. As well, Billy has his own television show in development with the ‘Z Living Network,’” the release said.
The theater is partially funded by a $1.5 million state grant; Connecticut Light & Power bought the Wall Street Theater’s state historic tax credits in exchange for $1.81 million.
There’s also a $1,666,000 HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) Section 108 loan, which the city would have to pay if the theater defaulted. This allows the theater to pay off its construction loan from Patriot Bank; payments will be made to the city over 20 years, with the building as collateral.