They were the grand old days of vaudeville, long before movies and TV, when singers, dancers, comediens..all sorts of acts…traveled from town to town bringing live entertainment to every corner of the country. Vaudeville is why in 1904 the good folks of Huntington, Indiana broke ground for a magnificent new theatre, a very classy state of the art venue designed specifically for live entertainment. And when vaudeville died and motion pictures took over, the Huntington was revamped to accommodate the new medium. But a decade ago the old Huntington shut down, and it’s been a hard luck life ever since. But the Huntington has new owners and a chance to regain some of its past glory.
“What we’re doing is bringing the theatre back to more of its roots,” says Rich Najuch, one of the theatres new owners. “I mean originally it was a vaudeville theatre with live performances.”
The Huntington will soon host live performances again once Najuch and his partner, Joel Foomkin, have their regional actors theatre up and running. The two partners have theatre backgrounds and they are remodeling the Huntington, turning it back into a venue for live theatre performances, and plan to build a professional acting company around it
“Our dream is to become a nationally recognized musical theatre-producing house, where actors are excited to come to and patrons are excited to come to,” says Joel Foomkin
The plan is to build a company of actors and stage professional quality plays and musicals year ‘round. There is still much work to do. Froomkin and Najuch are working on remodeling the lobby right now. The next step is to refurbish the theatre itself including the removal of the giant movie screen and the addition of a stage. But the partners are aware of the magnitude of their project.
“We know it’s a 15 year plan, something like this doesn’t happen overnight,” says Najuch. National recognition may take 15 years but the partners plan to mount their first production in 2009. So at the tender age of 105 the grand old Huntington Theatre will stage a comeback, reprising the role it was born to play.
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