Shakespeare has taken a youthful bent this summer in Chelsea Square as the Riseman Family Theatre is putting on two weekends of the classic Midsummer Night’s Dream with a full cast of young people.
Kelly Benitez, Katriana Franklin, Anthony Ramos-Weiss, and Heschel Stemhauser Roelofs perform as the laborers.
It’s the fourth full production put on by the Theatre – a branch of the Apollinaire Theatre – and the first time they’ve tackled Shakespeare.
“The youth program has been going on for a number of years, but with the advent of the Riseman, we are able now to put on full-scale youth productions,” said Danielle Fauteux Jacques of Apollinaire. “I think we thought it would be a great way to connect everything this summer, having two very different productions of the same play in one summer. It’s a fun play and a great play for kids. We’re also working on a grant with TND to get more activity in Chelsea Square, and so part of our production is performed outside by the fountain. The Midsummer play fit the bill in being able to go inside and outside. It’s been a fun way to engage people, even during the rehearsal programs outside.”
The play is directed by Armando Rivera, with the stage manager being Nina Weiss – both heavily involved with the Riseman.
Allison McCarthy has been involved with helping them backstage and recruiting young people.
She said there are nine students between ages 10-16 who are playing the principle roles. They committed themselves to a five-week intensive training program that met five nights a week.
Additionally, there are two groups of young children that play the fairies, and are between the ages of 5 and 9.
“I think it was great to have the adult production of Midsummer and then the kids production,” she said. “The kids got to go see the adult production at the PORT Park and observe the professional actors performing the play. That was really exciting for them as they got ready to do their own version.”
The play has already been performed last weekend for the first run, but it can be seen this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 6:30 p.m. starting in the Riseman Family Theatre, Chelsea Square.
The Apollinaire Play Lab Midsummer Night’s Dream cast.
Heschel Stemhauser Roelofs playing Lysander and Madison Weiss playing Hermia.
Lysander, played by Heschel Stemhauser Roelofs sleeps while Puck, played by Mya Feliz performs a little magic.
Kelly Benitez, Katriana Franklin, Anthony Ramos-Weiss, and Heschel Stemhauser Roelofs perform as the laborers.
10 Anthony Ramos-Weiss portrays a confused Bottom, who was not only given a donkeys head but also finds Titania, played by Niyoshi Encarnacion, magically in love with him.
Mya Feliz and Kelly Benitez.
In front of the Chelsea Square fountain, a group of young fairies dance during a portion of the outdoor show. Hair Fashion in Chelsea Square developed a special partnership with the young fairies and volunteered to do their hair and makeup for all the shows.
Chelsea residents Michael Albano and Eden Edwards have been supporting the Apollinaire Theatre for seven years by throwing a dinner party in their beautiful eclectic home to raise money to support the theatre’s free, outdoor, summer Apollinaire in the Park productions. “Of all the things Apollinaire does, it’s their best service to the community,” says Michael.
Michael, a Somerville native, first moved to Chelsea in 1995 and soon began looking for ways to get involved in the city. “My father was always a community activist,” says Michael. “It was just what you did in my family.” He was a part of the Chelsea Collaborative and Green Space (now GreenRoots), and was the chairman of the Chelsea Planning Board for four years. After the downturn in the economy, Michael turned his focus to his business. When he was ready to serve the community again, he found Apollinaire Theatre Company.
Michael joined the Apollinaire in the Park committee, after a decline in funding forced the cancellation on the 2011 show. He and Eden’s generous support of the theatre has grown into an exceptionally fun and memorable annual dinner in their home featuring Michael’s cooking, and performances from the Apollinaire in the Park cast. This summer Apollinaire is producing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cast members will be performing “Pyramus and Thisbe,” Midsummer’s play within a play, at the party.
On making Chelsea their home, Michael says, “Chelsea found me.” Eden, a Nebraska native who moved to Chelsea in 2001 adds that she feels “lucky to have found Chelsea.” The couple describes their home as a “Victorian beach house.” The Victorian details have a nautical flair, such as the banisters with waves carved into them. It was built in 1895 by a shipping captain from Beacon Hill as his second home and was the first home built in its Chelsea neighborhood. At the time it was constructed, the captain would have had an unobstructed view of the beach he could walk to.
-Michael’s journey as a cook began when he was just eight and made his first pizza. His father, who dabbled in the restaurant business, was the cook in the home. Michael’s culinary style is influenced French, American, and of course Italian cuisine (he lived in Italy for a number of years). He worked in the famed Ciro’s restaurant in Boston and enthusiastically describes himself as a food-lover.
Michael will be serving up a variety of hors d’oeuvres, vegetables, ravioli, New York strip steak, and his popular roasted Tuscan chicken and au gratin potatoes with wine, beer, and soft drinks. (Eden looks out for the vegetarians!) Apollinaire actor Ann Carpenter is known for contributing her famous vegetarian lasagna. There will also be desserts from Pan y Café. For wine enthusiasts, there will be a mini wine tasting/pairing offered from Eden and Michael’s reserve as an add-on for partygoers.
While hosting the dinner is big undertaking—Eden’s sister, agents from Michael’s real estate office, and friends often help them prepare—Michael and Eden are very happy that it has become a tradition in the community as well as in their home. “When people involved with the Chelsea community are in my house, it’s the most fun nights here apart from having family,” says Eden. The party always happens in June, not just to poise it to best serve fund-raising efforts for the theatre’s July performances, but also because Michael’s birthday is in June. The party doubles as a celebration for him where he can get friends who are not from Chelsea involved in supporting Apollinaire.
This year’s party is on June 15th at 7:00pm at the couple’s home: 32 Crest Ave., Chelsea. Tickets can be purchased through the theatre’s website: www.apollinairetheatre.com, at the door, or by calling 617-887-2336.
Apollinaire’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs July 11 – 29 at 7:30pm in Chelsea’s waterfront PORT Park, 99 Marginal Street. ALL performances are FREE. Contact the theatre to learn about opportunities to get involved with the show!
Apollinaire in the Park is a program of Apollinaire Theatre Company (ATC), Chelsea’s award-winning professional theatre. ATC produces adventurous contemporary theatre, and free outdoor summer shows. The ATC’s home is the Chelsea Theatre Works in Chelsea Square, which houses their three theatres: the Apollinaire Theatre; the Riseman Family Theatre, home of their youth program, the Apollinaire Play Lab; and the Black Box—a co-working rental theatre for Boston Area performing artists. Visit them on the web at www.apollinairetheatre.com.
Apollinaire Play Lab invites youth ages 11 to 16 to audition for their summer production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream! The youth production will take place in August, following the professional company’s production of the same play this July in PORT Park. All performances are FREE!
Apollinaire Theatre Company is known for environmentally staging its summer park shows. The audience moves with the action of the play, and different scenes are staged in different areas of the park. (If you attended the PORT Park production of Hamlet in 2016 you might recall the titular character delivering his to-be-or-not-to-be speech from atop one of the towering salt piles.) Following in the footsteps of the professional company, Apollinaire’s young actors will employ environmental staging with their youth production. The audience will be taken from in the Riseman Family Theatre out into Chelsea Square!
Armando Rivera, whom you may have seen on the Apollinaire stage (Everyman, First Love is the Revolution), will be directing the show. Armando has been a teacher and director at the Play Lab since 2016, just before the opening of the Riseman Family Theatre at the Chelsea Theatre Works. Armando says, “This is an amazing opportunity for young artists to create work that will be shared directly with their community. Our production of Shakespeare’s Midsummer will be a hilariously fun learning experience for everyone who gets involved.”
Auditions are being held this Saturday, June 9 at 2:00. You can email email@example.com to reserve your audition slot. There is no need to prepare a monologue and no previous acting experience is required. Youth who are interested in design and working backstage are encouraged to audition as well! Auditions will be in an open class format, and the entire group will work together over the course of the 45 – 60 minute audition.
The Play Lab didn’t forget Chelsea’s younger budding thespians! There are also dance & singing performance classes available this summer for youth ages 4-11. Children in these classes will appear as the fairies in two of the youth performances of Midsummer lending extra magic to the production! No audition is required for these classes; registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. The Play Lab makes scholarships available to ALL who need them to attend!
Crista Núñez, who began teaching at the Play Lab in the spring, will lead the dance & singing performance classes. Crista, originally from Guatemala, has taught more than 300 students during her career at Ballet Armonía. She studied ballet for 18 years with the methodology of the Royal Academy of Dance from London. As a vocalist, she has won first place in national contests as a soloist and with her band. “Discipline and art are perfectly combined by participating in this class and performances of Midsummer,” says Crista. “Students will grow as professionals, experience being an integral part of a performance, and gain confidence.”
The Play Lab’s production of Midsummer is part of a larger effort organized by The Neighborhood Developers (TND) in conjunction with the City of Chelsea’s Downtown Initiative to activate Chelsea Square with arts programing this summer. In addition to the two-week run of the youth production of Midsummer (August 10-12 and 17-19), there will be other regular performances in Chelsea Square throughout the summer, including live music. The kickoff event for the summer series in Chelsea Square is Thursday, June 9, from 6:00 to 8:00pm. The Apollinaire Play Lab will be hosting a booth with fairy-themed crafts and sign-ups for the audition and dance & singing classes.
Visit them online at aplaylab.com! Or you can call (617) 615-6506.
The Apollinaire Play Lab is a program of Apollinaire Theatre Company (ATC), Chelsea’s award-winning professional theatre. ATC produces adventurous contemporary theatre, and free outdoor summer shows. The ATC’s home is the Chelsea Theatre Works in Chelsea Square, which houses their three theatres: the Apollinaire Theatre, the Riseman Family Theatre, and the Black Box—a co-working rental theatre for Boston Area performing artists. Visit them on the web at www.apollinairetheatre.com.
Apollinaire Theatre Company presents the US Premiere of this viciously funny and unforgettable play about first love, teenage lust, and nature vs nurture.
Chelsea’s Apollinaire Theatre will begin a U.S. premiere of ‘First Love is the Revolution’ on April 13.
Rdeca is a young fox keen to test boundaries, whose curiosity lands her in a makeshift trap set by lonely 14-year-old Basti. When their paths cross, the sparks fly and an impossible bond spirals dangerously out of control.
First Love stars Hayley Spivey as the young fox Rdeca. Hayley recently appeared in SpeakEasy Stage’s Men on Boats and Lyric Stage Company’s Orlando. She is a graduate of Boston University with a BFA in Theatre Arts. She is joined by some Apollinaire regulars including Armando Rivera (Thoreau) and Dale J. Young (Gregor Mole), both most recently seen in Everyman, and exciting newcomers to Apollinaire including Bridgette Hayes and Khloe Alice Lin completing our fox family.
Performances of First Love is the Revolution are April 13-May 5, 2018
Fri. & Sat. at 8:00, Thurs. April 26, & May 3 at 8:00, Sun. April 22 & 29 at 3:00
Performances are at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea, MA
Tickets are $30, $25 seniors, $15 students
Tickets can be purchased by calling (617) 887-2336 or on-line at www.apollinairetheatre.com
Information and directions at www.apollinairetheatre.com.
Performances will be followed by a Reception with the actors.
Last summer two friends were chatting about how expensive college tuition is these days and the impending mounds of debt their collective six kids were most likely going to be faced with.
The conversation continued and one of the moms shared that she happened to be in the audience when Major Nippy Betz gave his TEDx talk a year prior and she was lucky to get to speak with him afterwards. She recalled having her mind blown open about the hidden world of scholarships and how if you cast a wide net, and are disciplined (just like fishing), you can reel in a boatload of free money. It was at that moment where they looked at each other and had an idea.
Like many moms, these friends are employed, over-extended and crazed, however they decided they needed to bring Nippy to Boston to share his education and his secrets. As they began to dig deeper, it became quickly evident that there was a lot they didn’t know, and likely other parents didn’t know as well. They decided to roll up their sleeves and plan the first ever Massachusetts Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp.
Kerry Strollo, Lexington resident, mom and event co-organizer said “This is about educating parents that you don’t have to sit idly by and just hope something down the line will work out financially for your kids. This is about early success planning so you (and your kiddos) are not panicked when they are a senior in High School on how they, or you, will afford college. Who knew kids in 7th and 8th grade can start to obtain and stockpile scholarships, and High Schoolers can earn so much they pay for their college education and then receive overpayments for living expenses after college? I didn’t, and we have 4 kids! As soon as I learned this I wanted to shout it from the mountain tops.” Strollo added, “There are tips, techniques, and a path to finding the scholarships, however it starts with putting together a plan of action. This Bootcamp is designed to help you craft that plan for success.”
Rosette Cataldo, a Revere native, mom and event co-organizer looks at it though a different lens. “I watch my kids, albeit great students, wasting time every day on the internet, Fort Nite, YouTube, Netflix…you name it. These kids must use their devices and brains for a better purpose. I want to educate my children on how to make the internet a gold mine that works for them, their future and not just a time suck.” This event is all about educating local parents and students at the same time and getting them aligned to work together with a plan so that the family isn’t crippled with debt
The Strategic Scholarship Bootcamp will be held:
April 29, 2018 11 am – 1 pm Diamond Middle School, Lexington
April 29, 2018 4 pm – 6 pm Sheraton Hotel, Framingham, MA
April 30, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Larcom Theatre, Beverly, MA
May 1, 2018 7 pm – 9 pm Marriott Hotel, Newton, MA
For more info please visit: www.strategicscholarships.com
Tickets are $49 per person. Students are encouraged to join their parents. Group rates (20+) available. To hear the story about a Tuft’s graduate with massive student debt please view this video
Participants in this summer’s Apollinaire Theatre production “The Visit,” including Jay Connolly, Mat Venson, Sabine Michaud, and Shaun Downey enjoyed unwinding at the Albano/ Eden house party for the Apollinaire Theatre on Friday, June 16.
Mimi Rancatore, a co-owner of the world-renowned Toscanini’s in Cambridge, has created a working life around ice cream since coming to Boston in the 1970s. Since 2001, she has called Chelsea home and said she loves working in Cambridge and coming home to Beacon Street.
Chelsea’s Mimi Rancatore has constructed a life around an ice cream cone, and to date, it’s been topped with sprinkles.
Rancatore has lived in Chelsea since 2001, but during working hours she spends her days in Cambridge at the world-renowned Toscanini’s Ice Cream and Coffee in Central Square – a business she has co-owned with her brother for more than a decade.
Toscanini’s has been around since 1982, when Rancatore’s brother, Gus, started the business after training in ice cream making at Steve’s Ice Cream in Davis Square. Rancatore, who also worked at Steve’s and learned a lot about ice cream, worked in fine dining at many notable restaurants until joining her brother a little over 10 years ago.
“I love my job and I love Chelsea,” said Rancatore this week at her shop in Central Square. “I love wearing multiple hats in business and I love being in charge. Both Gus and I worked at the old Steve’s Ice Cream in Davis Square in 1975 and 1976. Steve started the parlor ice cream. He invented the mix-ins. We worked there and then we went our separate ways. Gus is the ice cream maker, which he is excellent at, and I do the business end. Don’t get me wrong, I can make ice cream and I can cook, but Gus is really good at it. I was into fine dining for a long time, but got sick of the hours and joined Gus as a co-owner about 11 years ago. The best way to describe Toscanini’s is it’s an adult ice cream store. We have a lot of flavors for children too, but we have some complex ones as well. I love working in an ice cream store because it’s happy food. Everyone is happy here.”
Rancatore was born in the New York City/New Jersey area, but she and her five siblings spent their high school years in St. Louis. Her brother Gus had already left St. Louis and settled in Boston when Rancatore graduated high school. She said she couldn’t bear to go to college and knew the academic world wasn’t for her. Gus said he could get her a job at Steve’s Ice Cream, so at the age of 19, Rancatore left St. Louis for an ice cream job, and she continues that tradition to this day – though she and her brother have pretty much climbed to the top of the East Coast Ice Cream world.
Toscanini’s has a truly incredible following, with several Best of Boston awards and numerous Top 10 lists – with the New York Times once calling it the best ice cream on the planet.
The most popular flavor in the store is the B3, a concoction of brown sugar, brownies, browned butter and burnt caramel.
“The most popular flavor is B3 and has been for awhile,” she said. “Right now, our chocolate is outselling vanilla. It didn’t used to be that way, but now the two have reversed in popularity. My personal favorite is malted vanilla, but we are doing some very exciting things with our new soft serve offerings, including a twist of chocolate rum banana with malted vanilla.”
Rancatore lives on Beacon Street in Chelsea and has been around long enough to see her condo go from very desirable to very undesirable and the, back to desirable. She serves on the Chelsea Cultural Council and is a big supporter of the Apollinaire Theatre and the Chelsea Girl Scouts.
She said she often thinks about the future of Broadway Chelsea and compares it to the successful climb of Central Square lately. One thing she said is there needs to be more restaurants, simple restaurants, on the stretch.
“There needs to be a go-to restaurant, something like Newbridge in Prattville,” she said. “When I imagine Broadway, that’s what I think.”
Rancatore said business is good and she relishes being able to spend her days in Cambridge and her private time in Chelsea.
“We’ve been very lucky and we’re doing very well with the business,” she said. “I love being able to work in Cambridge and go home to where I live in Chelsea. I really appreciate Chelsea and how in Chelsea the city councillors will go to all the events. You don’t get that in Cambridge so much. I think that’s great. There is a real community feel to the city.”
Apollinaire Theatre will be holding a Summer Shakespeare Intensive, June 27-July 31, for youth ages 11-18 as part of the new and expanded Chelsea Youth Theatre program.
Participants will perform Hamlet in Spanish as part of our Apollinaire in the Park production running July 13-31 in PORT Park. Each summer Apollinaire Theatre Company produces a free outdoor show in both English and Spanish. This summer our Chelsea Youth Theatre students, with help from our professional company, will be presenting the Spanish language version of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
This five-week program will include classes in acting, text, movement, and stage combat, and on-going rehearsals. Actors from the professional cast of Hamlet will also offer special workshops in their areas of expertise. Participants will present Hamlet in PORT Park on Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31.
No prior acting or Shakespeare experience is required, just interest, enthusiasm, commitment, and a desire to learn. All participants must attend a group audition (no prepared piece is needed!). Auditions will be held June 11 & 12 during the Chelsea Art Walk, and on June 16 & 19. Class work will be bilingual, and the final production will be in Spanish and preference will be given to students who speak Spanish. (English language classes will begin this fall!) Cost for the program is $575. Financial aid is available, and all students with an interest in performing are encouraged to apply regardless of financial status — we are committed to providing opportunities to everybody with an interest in the arts.
The program will be directed by Andrea Rios and Armando Rivera. Rios is a dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker with a background in Hispanic Literature. She recently received her Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Emerson College. Armando is an actor and director, with degrees in theater and history from Florida Gulf Coast University. He has worked extensively in youth theatre with the B Street Theatre in Sacramento, CA, where he toured California with “Walk in Our Shoes” and was featured in the original production “Dia de los Cuentos.”
Chelsea Youth Theatre will be offering a variety of classes for children and youth in their new youth theatre this fall! They encourage students and parents to sign up for their email list on their web site, www.apollinairetheatre.com for information. The new youth arts space will have a black-box theater for youth productions, and offer classes and youth programs year round. There will also be expanded opportunities for youth to apprentice and intern with Apollinaire Theatre Company, working with professional directors, stage managers, and designers, or participating in productions as actors.
All programs are at the Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet Street (Chelsea Square – across from 222 Broadway) in Chelsea.
The Chelsea Youth Theatre is supported in part by a grant from the Paul & Edith Babson Foundation and the Riseman Foundation.
For more information call: 617/887-2336 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Youth Theatre is a program of Apollinaire Theatre Company, Chelsea’s own professional theater.
Young Actors in 2015 Apollinaire in the Park production.
When the Chelsea Art Walk premieres this coming June 11 and 12, it will have a significant Chelsea Square feel to it.
That’s because instead of buses ferrying folks all over the City, this year’s Art Walk will be the first to acknowledge the desire by the City to have a Cultural District, and therefore will center most activities in and around Chelsea Square for the first time.
“We’ve re-engineered Art Walk to be in venues proximate to Chelsea Square,” said Bob Boulrice, who is helping organizer Joe Greene and others with this year’s walk. “This is related to allowing people to experience the venues without the need for buses. To that extent, we’re glad to now have Roca participating and others. We’re doing this to support the City’s desire to activate Chelsea Square as a Cultural District. That means that people will come to Chelsea Square and experience a lot of art and culture. There are Cultural Districts all over the places I go, why should Chelsea have one too?”
The Art Walk will feature new venues in proximity to the Square like Roca, as mentioned above, but it will also use some creative ways of centralizing the fun.
For example, the Boston Printmakers Board will present a show of award winning etchings and lithographs inside of a shipping container parked in the park area next to Broadway and Second Street.
Also, there will be an Independent Film Festival called ‘Moving Pictures’ inside another container on the park area.
There will also be live music on a stage that is set up on Second Street. There, from 3-5 p.m. on Saturday, The Curve of the Earth and Chelsea High School Rockers will perform – as well as hip hop artists ‘Truey’ and ‘Frenchie.’
It will all be anchored by the Apollinaire Theatre, which is undergoing major renovations right now with the goal of re-opening a whole new theatre complex this fall.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity this year,” said Boulrice. “The renovations now going on at the Apollinaire is very appropriate and convenient to this. The Apollinaire is now going to be offering an opportunity for Boston-area theatre artists to create their work in Chelsea Square. The moment is right. Those who have been involved with Art Walk for a decade feel it’s incredibly important to let people know we want them to come here. There’s been enough bad news, and this is very good news.”
At the City level, City Planner John DePriest said that through May, students from Tufts University in the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning class have been surveying and interviewing folks in the downtown area.
DePriest said the City wishes to have a Cultural District that runs from City Hall all the way to Williams Street. It would not only include arts venues like Apollinaire, but also capitalize on the different foods and cultural items on Broadway.
“They talked to a lot of people to get a sense of what’s going on downtown and what’s available downtown,” he said. “They went through a process of gathering information for a grant application that we plan to submit. We’re also looking to identify private funding and non-profit funding opportunities. It really goes beyond the arts. We want to emphasize the multi-cultural aspects of the District. There are Spanish restaurants, Asian stores and then you have the international nature of the City. Chelsea’s downtown fits well together.”
Boulrice said one must think about how a Cultural District can help the city.
“It’s not to think about what a Cultural District is, but what a Cultural District does,” he said. “A Cultural District provides an opportunity for residents and others to go to a a specific place…In Chelsea Square there food, karaoke, Mariachi, singing, dancing, Apollinaire Theatre, Pearl Street Gallery and the art now being produced at Roca. Chelsea Square would seem to be a likely area to designate as a Cultural District. Arts and culture goes on all over Chelsea, but by designating this a cultural district, the local population and the wider populace that attends an arts and culture event will come to know there’s a lot going on in Chelsea.”
Certainly, anyone attending the Art Walk on June 11 or 12 will be well aware of that, as they premiere ‘Art in the Park.’
Pearl Street Gallery, 100 Pearl St.
Chelsea Community Garden, Ellsworth Street
Roca, 101 Park St. (12-6 p.m. both days)
Apollinaire Theatre Company, 189 Winnisimmet St.
The Apollinaire Gallery (second floor), 189 Winnisimmet St.
Second Street Sound Stage, Saturday 3-5 p.m.
Indie Film Fest, Containers in the Park (Broadway and Second Street)
Boston Printmakers, Containers in the Park (Broadway and Second Street)
The Apollinaire Theatre is well underway to becoming a hub for Boston’s experimental theatre scene right in Chelsea Square with a major renovation of the Theatre’s spacious facilities.
Danielle Fateaux Jacques, Apollinaire founder and owner, and Development Coordinator Trip Venturella officially announced the plans and treated the Record to a behind-the-scenes (no pun intended) tour of the project on Monday. The announcement was in conjunction with an announcement by MassDevelopment of a $250,000 to support the project.
“We sort of started this theatre as a way to take the energy of Apollinaire Theatre and create a center of artistic energy and vitality in Chelsea Square and this is expanding it to spaces that weren’t fulfilling that desire,” said Venturella. “It was an artistic no-brainer to me. Of course, you want to bring in these innovative companies. Way back when Danielle bought the building (in the early 2000s), I think she had the vision of making this into a community hotbed for performance. This corresponded with that vision. It was sort of us seizing the moment. We are really excited for the project. It’s going to be transformative.”
Venturella outlined that the major renovations will not take place in the main theatre on the second floor of the building, which is in quite good shape. Aside from a few bathrooms to be added, it will remain the same.
“The idea is that the upstairs has an Old World elegance and downstairs would be a funky burgeoning art space,” he said.
The changes come on the first floor, where Apollinaire is constructing a full Black Box Theatre space where a furniture store used to be. Next to that, in another storefront, there will be a full youth theatre space for youth programs and youth performances – something Apollinaire has done for years.
Venturella said Apollinaire will not be using the Black Box for its own productions.
Instead, they will be renting out the space to theatre groups that have – in recent years – found themselves homeless.
Venturella said there is an explosion in theatre companies and works in Boston, but there are few places for them to perform. Many are doing innovative works, creating weird and unique productions, but having nowhere to present that artistic work.
Apollinaire looks to fill that void.
“There is plenty of spaces in Boston that are huge – like 3,000 seats,” he said. “There are plenty of spaces in Boston that are 200 to 300 seats. But, there are no spaces in Boston under 99 seats. There are only a very few. One place is a repurposed building and looks it. Some of the other places are adventurous places to do theatre, such as arcades, churches, or found spaces. The Charlestown Working Theatre and Boston Playwrights’ Theatre are great, but they tend to have their own productions. There are just a lot of gypsy companies that don’t have space and have incredible potential.”
He said one part of that equation is that rents are going up in so many places, and apartment buildings or other spaces where theatre was done is no longer welcome as redevelopment happens in formerly undesirable locations.
Also, there are so many groups forming in the Boston area that space is hard to book.
“There is an explosion of small theatre companies and I don’t know why that is,” he said. “Maybe there are more people moving to Boston who are interested in theatre. We hope that some of those companies would want to come here and use these facilities. We’re ready to welcome them. We hope it becomes a hub not only for Greater Boston performance, but also a cultural hub for Chelsea.”
Because Apollinaire owns the building, Venturella said those renting the Black Box Theatre can take advantage of the many underutilized spaces within the building – including areas to rehearse lines and areas in the basement to build sets. They can set up, he said, and use other parts of the building while they prepare for the actual performance.
He said they envision renting out the Black Box on a weekly basis.
A Black Box theatre is a minimalist production where there is not main stage and the audience is very close to the performance, which happens literally in a black room with dramatic lighting. The focus, obviously, is on the acting and the writing rather than full production values like sets and costumes.
The Youth Theatre is something that Apollinaire always planned to do, reserving the first-floor space for a similar small theatre, along with a gallery/foyer area and rehearsal space.
Right now, the spaces have been fully gutted, and workers are framing the spaces and exposing unique elements like a brick wall that still appears to have baked-in soot from a fire long ago. Venturella said the key date to finish is in August, as that’s when the new theatre season will start.
“This has to be completed by the summer,” he said. “The big date for us is late A
The beginnings of the Black Box Theatre in a former storefront that once housed a furniture store.
ugust – August 28. Companies start their seasons on a school schedule. It’s very important for us to have that season booked in August.”
Funding comes from a variety of sources, including the major MassDevelopment grant announced last week. Other funding sources came from the City of Chelsea, from a refinancing of the building, from Chelsea native Benson Riseman and from local business owners and long-time supporters.