The sound system works, but the lighting isn’t very good. And it’s chilly in there.
“You will probably feel a breeze on your feet,” Plymouth Christian Youth Center (PCYC) Executive Director Anne Long told the audience who gathered on Jan. 28 for a press conference at the Capri Theater.
The Capri, built in the 1920s, is the North Side’s last traditional theater. Long described it as being “much loved, like the Velveteen rabbit,” but said it is now time for some renovations.
“It is part of our strategic plan to bring up the lights on West Broadway,” she said. Although the original renovation plan included major changes such as installing 300 new seats (the theater currently has 235), dressing rooms with running water, a green room, a recording studio, rehearsal space and additional classrooms, Long said that she, the board and the staff decided that “it is probably not prudent at this point” to attempt to do it all right now.
The scaled-down renovations will start on the exterior, with marquee replacement. Artistic associate Dennis Spears “now puts up the letters by hand, with a long pole,” she said. Other work includes some new windows, new lighting inside and out, and acoustical improvements in the theater. The aisles will be carpeted and lined with “little strings of lights, like at a real theater where you pay lots of money to see a show,” Long said.
Workers will open up the lobby, which will be larger and better lighted, and install a refreshment bar and double doors into the theater. PCYC staff estimate that the work in this first phase will cost about $600,000. They estimate completion by mid-June.
Long introduced, among other people, Capri Director Karl Reichert and Communications Director Carl Griffin. She also acknowledged a group of Best Buy employees who attended the press conference, saying that the Best Buy Children’s Foundation had donated money and volunteers to PCYC.
Mayor R.T. Rybak, honorary chair of PCYC’s capital campaign, said it was an honor to be on the same stage where Prince, Dennis Spears and T. Mychael Rambo had performed. (Rambo, an actor and singer, is co-chair of the campaign along with PCYC board member Janet Anderson.)
Rybak referred to the two students in PCYC’s arts and technology program, Jovonn Barefield and Latrelle Beamon, who performed monologues at the press conference, saying, “Young people help you see things through their eyes. There is nothing like the arts to tell what is really happening inside of a person.”
Rybak added, “This is not an ordinary project. It is really wonderful to get to this stage, but we have to go farther. It’s a phenomenal facility.”
The mayor talked about good things happening on West Broadway, including the Cookie Cart (an entrepreneurial bakery enterprise for youth). He introduced artist Connie Beckers of the Northside Arts Collective (NAC), who announced that the McKnight Foundation had recently awarded NAC $75,000 for artist-designed business facades on West Broadway.