Fundraising begins for theater space in former Bath church

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BRUNSWICK — Studio 48 Performing Arts Center hopes to make strides towards its goal of building a Bath theater space with a “Winter Showcase” this weekend.

Based at 20 Davis St., Studio 48 has signed a lease for the sanctuary of the former United Church of Christ at 150 Congress Ave. in Bath. The building is also home to the New Meadows Childcare and Learning Center, which owns the property, and the Bath Area Food Bank.

Rebecca Beck, owner and founder of the Studio 48 school and its nonprofit public performance vehicle, the New England Regional Theater Company, would like to move into the new space as early as March, at least “in a skeletal area,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

“Studio 48 is the educational aspect,” Beck said, whereas the nonprofit theater company “is where kids have the opportunity to perform and put it all together. The one thing that we’re really looking forward to is having a theater space.”

That search of roughly five years has come to an end.

“We finally signed a lease in a space, and now we’re looking to build out,” Beck said, noting that she is trying to raise $100,000 toward the work. “It’s still an open space; there are a lot of things that need to be done.”

That’s where the Winter Showcase comes in – an opportunity for people to see the space and, Beck said, “get inspired.”

The Sunday, Dec. 18, fundraiser will include a dinner and silent auction, as well as performances by the singers, glee singers, dancers and violinists of Studio 48. Doors open at 4 p.m. for a meet-and-greet and auction bidding, with dinner and the show to start at 5 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $35 for couples, $15 for students and seniors, and $50 for families of four. Reservations are available by emailing studio48pac@comcast.net or calling 798-6966.  

Bath is aiding in the fundraising by looking for grants for the 5,000-square-foot theater space, Beck said. The pews of the old church were recently sold, and the company has been asked to preserve the pipe organs.

“We’re looking forward to this; it’s going to be used for the community,” Beck said. In the course of a year, she said, the theater will offer four Maine Stage productions and two Children Musical Theater productions, along with summer camps and workshops.

Beck said the center provides a safe and stimulating environment to all sorts of youth: mainstream, high risk, challenged, and autistic. The new theater will offer lessons in lighting design, intern directing, sound engineering, house management, acting, singing, acting and choreography.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Rebecca Beck, center, is owner and founder of the Studio 48 Performing Arts Center and New England Regional Theater Company, which is moving into the former United Church of Christ building in Bath. Samantha Morest Moore, left, is treasurer and office manager of NERTC, and Kate Andreu is secretary of NERTC and dance director of Studio 48.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.