BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Keith Cromwell’s dream is close to becoming a reality: Red Mountain Theatre Company’s new campus is almost ready to open.
Cromwell, executive director of the company, said every day feels like Christmas right now with so many deliveries arriving. On Wednesday, it was a new set of bright red chairs for the lobby, which is nearly finished. The lobby is one of many features Cromwell is excited about as the center’s opening approaches.
“For 15 years, we’ve been looking to find a home,” Cromwell said. “That includes finding 12 different properties, purchasing three of them, doing programming documents with architects on several of them, only to find ourselves finally with the patience of landing in this perfect place.”
The 60,000 square-foot facility covers an entire block along 3rd Avenue South between 16th and 17th Streets. Large red letters spell out “Red Mountain Theatre” in front of the main entrance. Inside, a spacious lobby features two bars where guests can hang out before and after shows. The main stage theater, where construction continues, will seat 450 people. The discovery theater will seat 150.
Soft openings, or preview performances, begin in mid-May. They’ll include concerts, readings of new work and more. In July, the theatre will host a Roaring 20s Immersive Experience, which will offer a look at what happened the last time a pandemic ended, around a century ago.
“We’re going to have your bathtub gin in the back room,” Cromwell said. “We’re going to have Cole Porter playing in a room. We’re going to have the flap dancers playing. We’re going to have a huge band. Our lobby’s going to deck out very Great Gatsby meets Cotton Club, so just this kind of joyful gathering that we’re all dying to (have), and we’re going to have it here at the campus.”
The other side of the campus is an education center, which has always been a big point of focus for Red Mountain Theatre Company.
“Our education center is stunning. We have five beautiful rooms – two are huge,” Cromwell said. “So we’ve already started to roll out some of what we’re known for with that immaculate education program.”
The COVID-19 pandemic began after the construction process had already started, but Cromwell said it actually worked out in the company’s favor. Because of event cancellations, they were able to focus all their attention on the new building and what they wanted it to be.