To most people, the first signs of improvements at Village Players Theatre, 1010 Madison St., will be the facade, as its ugly exterior gives way to large windows, brick and sconces.

“I think it will give us a lot more street presence,” said Carl Occhipinti, artistic director. “It looks like an abandoned warehouse now.”

But the facade is just the tip of the reconstruction iceberg. The black box theatre will be expanded and improved. New wiring, lights and sound will grace the main stage. An added handicap-accessible exit ramp. More sprinkler systems. Expanded costume area. A new storage shed.

Facelift: Village Players Theatre, 1010 Madison St., will look like this within a few months. “It looks like an abandoned rowhouse now,” artistic director Carl Occhipinti says.
Sketch courtesy of Village Players Theatre

“Almost everywhere you walk in the theater now, it’s change, change, change,” Occhipinti said.

The black box stage will allow Village Players to run two productions simultaneously and give the company a chance to “try [plays] that aren’t as known or are a little edgy” without the financial risks of being limited to the main stage, he said.

Although the improvements predate the creation of the Madison Street Corridor Plan, the improved facade surely fits with the plan’s goals of beautifying the area and attracting people, Occhipinti said, adding that a study in Chicago showed that every dollar spent improving its theatre district leveraged $3 in the form of restaurant, shopping and hotel spending.

Occhipinti said the physical improvements will reflect what was already happening onstage at Village Players-better performances.

“It was time,” he said.





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