Last we checked in on the Strand Theater, Mid-Market's historic ex-movie house was full of scaffolding as crews got busy readying the 1917 structure for its transformation into the American Conservatory Theater's newest digs. The renovation, led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with preservation architects Page & Turnbull, officially got under way back in 2013. With the revamped theater's June 3 curtain time fast approaching, we went behind the scenes to get a look at the building as workers neared the home stretch. On May 14, the official ribbon-cutting ceremony will open the 283-seat theater—plus a 140-seat black box upstairs—with a production of Love and Information starting June 3.
When we stopped by last month, the theater had just received a fresh coat of vermillion paint. "When we got the building, it was maroonish," says our tour guide, Denys Baker, ACT's administrative project manager. "We started from that and we just kept getting brighter and brighter and brighter." The building's radical new hue announces a transformation—and an investment—signaled by the theater's choice to grow its presence in the neighborhood (ACT also runs a small black-box space, the Costume Shop, next door). Recalling Mid-Market's heyday as a theater district, Baker explains, "We're hopeful that ACT's commitment will result in bringing that vibrancy back."
UPDATE (5/11/15): This post has been updated to reflect the new seat count for the black-box theater, which is now 140, not 120.