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Carpenter union

Carpenter Square Theatre puts its pieces back together as it finally settles into a new, permanent space.

Eric Webb October 5th, 2011

A performing-arts institution with nearly 30 years of history in Oklahoma City, Carpenter Square Theatre has settled into a new location, after being forced out of its long-term home at Stage Center from heavy rain waters flooding the basement.

The “devastating” flood not only took out CST’s office, but also its stock of furniture, props and costumes.

“It was shocking to see furniture and appliances floating in 3 feet of water, sometimes a hundred feet away from where it had been sitting before,” said Rhonda Clark, artistic director.

She knew then that if Stage Center ever would reopen, it would not be soon. To this day, the fate of the building is unknown. Only once did a board member bring up the possibility of closing the theater — a suggestion that was met with silence. Instead, Clark tried to locate a temporary home for CST, but the venues she explored either were partially or fully booked.

right Doobie Potter, board president, sits on Carpenter Square Theater’s new stage, under construction.

Things looked fairly bleak when Tom Seabrooke of the Bricktown Hotel & Convention Center contacted CST about performing there. While a great boon, a new set of challenges arose. CST had to figure out a way to turn part of a ballroom into a theater, and had to move some dates after publicity efforts were under way.

“Overall, though, the hotel was a wonderful port in a storm for CST when we needed a place to land,” Clark said.

CST also benefitted from the continued support of its loyal audience.

“Frankly, we were shocked and pleased at the faithfulness of our audiences! Our season-ticket sales only dipped 1.9 percent, and individual-ticket sales surpassed or held steady with the previous season’s sales,” she said.

Guided by a list of requirements, Clark and the CST board began looking for a permanent home last fall.

Only one met all their needs, a storefront space at 800 W. Main. Clark said she immediately saw its potential.

“It just felt good when you walked in, even though it looked nothing like a theater!” she said.

The new space will be renovated in stages. The first stages of the build-out were completed before “Superior Donuts” opened last month. Determined to move forward, CST has an ambitious 28th season planned that includes three comedies, three dramedies, a sci-fi thriller and a drama.

“It’s a wide variety of styles with exceptional storytelling,” Clark said. “And none of the plays have been produced in Oklahoma City previously.”

The next show, “Dark Matters,” opens Oct. 14.

CST is seeking donations of time and money to aid in the transition. For more information, call 232-6500.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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10.05.2011 at 04:23 Reply

Carpenter Square Theater's first home was an abandoned paper company warehouse where the Oklahoma County Jail sits today.  Its inaugural production was a staging of "The Rocky Horror Show" that so shook up Oklahoma City's rectitude, we knew that -- between either the leaks in the roof and jerryrigged electricals or an Act of God Herself -- SOMEone was going to be electrocuted.  Regardless, we knew we were onto an idea that would fill a theater void in Oklahoma City.  It is comforting to know that, after 27 years, neither God or man has managed to deter Carpenter Square Theater from its course. Bravo.  Here's to the next 27 years!