Mark Doubleday’s six years of work to convert a downtown building to a live theater performance space is looking like it might pay off, he said last week.
“It’s hard to imagine we’re moving forward with it,” Doubleday said.
The Quonset Hut Theater was opened to the public on Monday June 6th, 2016. Doubleday notes it’s also the anniversary of D-Day, fitting for the military-style building. The soft opening was May 30th, which corresponds to the 69th anniversary of when the building opened in 1947.
Actors, tech crew workers and a director are always needed.
In addition to the live theater, Doubleday said he’s had inquiries from church groups and others about holding events on the stage, and Christmas events and a graduation have been held there. He hopes to bring live music to the venue as well.
The theater was built in 1947 as a movie house. It’s probably mostly remembered as a carpet store, though. That was its most recent incarnation before Doubleday bought it for $27,000.
Now, Doubleday said, he’s spent upwards toward 10,000 hours over seven years prior to opening to give a home to the nonprofit Athens Community Theater.
While the outside is a brick, rounded structure that both stands out because of its shape and seems unremarkable in its simplicity, the inside is a tribute to theater.
Tables and chairs in the lobby are surrounded by artwork from Broadway’s past. The 150-seat theater itself is dressed in dark fabric on the walls. Modern LED lighting rigs hang next to a classic chandelier. The smell of fresh paint was in the air last week.
And near the back of the room sat an out-of-place easy chair.
“I have my chair here,” Doubleday said. “This is my thinking chair. I’ve solved a lot of these problems and there’s times I’ve just sat here for a half-hour.”
Doubleday might have a passion for providing a performance space, but that passion stops where the curtain opens. Instead of being on stage, Doubleday prefers to work behind the scenes, running audio and lights after his career as an electronic tech at Post Foods in Battle Creek.
“My goal here was to get this ready, bring it to the public, get to a spot where I could do this,” Doubleday said. “If someone else says, ‘I want to direct,’ go right ahead.”