Shadowland Theatre, in Ellenville, opened as an Art Deco movie and vaudeville house on July 3, 1920. It was badly damaged in a 1939 fire and rebuilt, then shut down in 1980. Five years later, it reopened and now is being gutted and renovated — using brick, plaster, and paint — in the style of the Roaring Twenties. “It’s very cool,” says Brendan Burke, the artistic director.
The venue is now in the middle of a three-year, $1 million capital campaign, which includes the purchase of a second building nearby; this storefront will be converted into a second theater that will focus on Shadowland’s educational programming. The original building has already had its HVAC equipment repaired, its nine separate roofs replaced, and about half of it has been renovated, Burke says. Phase two started in January, and includes rebuilding the main auditorium and stage and renovating the backstage, dressing rooms, and green room. “Anything that is salvageable, like some old lighting sconces we have, we hope to incorporate in the new theater,” he says.
The goal is to be done by mid-April. “We go into rehearsal the second week of May for our next show,” says Burke, who has himself wielded a hammer on the project now and then. “No one is exempt from work,” he says. “Every night people stop by to hammer and paint. It is very much a community project, which is fantastic.”