By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent
POMFRET – A new state-of-the-art 90-seat theater is slated to open in August with the ArtisTree Music Theatre Festival featuring four musicals that will showcase both local and New York talent.
The theater will be housed in the former Teago Grange Hall that is being extensively renovated while retaining much of its original historic charm.
“The opportunity to help build something from the ground up is an extraordinary privilege,” said Director of Theatre Arts and veteran actor Christopher Flockton. “I can’t wait to share this exciting new space with the community.”
There are five more weeks of construction followed by six weeks to install interior equipment, related Flockton who was hired in February 2017 to run the new theater.
The community is invited to an open house at the Grange Theatre on Saturday, July 22 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The building is believed to have been a basket factory in the mid-1800’s, according to Pomfret Historical Society Director Alan Graham. A family named Harlow originally owned the building that was located near a shingle shop. The original site of the building was along Stage Road in Barnard close to the Pomfret town line.
In 1908, the building was disassembled and moved by sled during the winter to its present location in the South Pomfret village area. Land was purchased by the Teago Grange, and the building was reconstructed to become a branch of the State Grange of Vermont, Graham explained.
The Teago Grange was active from 1908 until 1983 and, at one point, over 100 members. At this time, the Executive Committee of the Teago Grange transferred the property to the Teago Fire Department Inc. In 1910, the building was converted to a country store.
Then, in 1997 the Teago Fire Department conveyed the property to a newly formed nonprofit, The Teago Community Hall Association, Inc.
Currently, Engineering Services of Vermont is providing mechanical engineering services on the project that involves the complete renovation of the Grange. River Town Design of Hartford, VT is leading the design of this renovation project.
The theater will host such events as musicals and plays, meetings, and dances, among many others. The outside of the building will look nearly identical to the old Grange Hall with the addition of a wraparound porch and handicap accessibility.
The theater will retain the Grange name through a special arrangement with the National Grange Association, Flockton noted.
Originally from the United Kingdom, Flockton moved to the Upper Valley in 2011 after 17 years in New York City, working in many areas of the entertainment business including film and television, and New York and regional theaters.
“The future holds such excitement for the new Grange Theater,” said Flockton. “Following the conclusion of the Music Theater Festival, a regular season of plays featuring collaborations between community members and professional theater artists is being planned, as well as special events, and an increased roster of theater classes for all ages and abilities.”
The Music Theater Festival performances include “The Little Mermaid” (Aug. 11-13), “Always Patsy Cline” (Aug. 25-Sept. 10), “Godspell” (Sept. 15-Oct. 1), and “The Marvelous Wonderettes” (Oct. 6-22), Flockton remarked.
The nonprofit ArtisTree Community Arts Center provides an opportunity for a meaningful experience of the visual arts, movement, and music in addition to theater through its year-round classes, workshops, performances, gallery exhibits and events, Flockton said.
“We encourage our local community members of all ages and abilities to participate in a wide variety of art processes,” said Flockton. “Our offerings are designed to nurture each person’s inherent creative capabilities and raise the possibility of art as a vital force in an individual’s overall growth and expressive abilities.”
For more information on the grand opening and the ArtisTree Music Theater Festival, go to www.artistreevt.org.
By Virginia Dean, Standard Correspondent