Schultz Theatre moving to Broadway

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

NEW MARKET — A Shenandoah County theater is moving to Broadway - but not the one in New York City.

The Schultz Theatre and School of Performing Arts will relocate to Rockingham County on Nov. 1.

Artistic Director Michael Gwin said the theater pays $3,000 per month in rent and utilties for its facility at 9357 N. Congress St., which requires a near-constant stream of ticket sales to maintain.

As a result, he said, the move is necessary to alleviate the financial and production burdens on the theater’s staff and volunteers.

“It was too expensive to try and keep up,” he said. “We had to do one production every month, which is just craziness. Now we’ll only do six per year.”

The nonprofit theater opened in New Market on Oct. 1, 2010 and relies mostly on ticket sales and donations.

The town’s financial support of Schultz consists of $2,000 in matching funds in accordance with a grant from the Virginia Commission of the Arts, Town Manager Mike Ritchie said.

“We hate to see them leave,” he said. “We have a great tradition of the performing arts that we hope we can continue.”

Broadway Town Manager Kyle O’Brien said he is drafting an agreement that will give the theater work space in the town office and performance space in J. Frank Hillyard Middle School’s auditorium.

“We’ve tried to put a focus on the arts and we’re trying to get people coming into Broadway,” he said. “We hope it will be another amenity to attract people.”

O’Brien added that the town is discussing partnering with Schultz to launch a summer theater program for Broadway High School students.

Schultz’s current location opened as the Rouss Opera House in 1901. It doubled as New Market’s town hall until 1993.

Schultz’s departure may not spell the end of theater in New Market.

Don and Carmen Conard, who have owned the building since 2006, held a public meeting at Town Hall on Thursday to discuss what the town wants to do with the building and the feasibility of attracting a new theater group.

“We feel that there’s enough support in the community to continue it,” Don Conard said. “It doesn’t need to end just because a few people are leaving.”

The theater has three shows remiaining in New Market. “Anne of Green Gables” opens today and runs through Aug. 21, while “The Elves and the Shoemaker” runs from Sept. 2 to Sept. 11.

“My Fair Lady” opens Sept. 30 and closes Oct. 9.

Schultz’s first Broadway show, the Sherlock Holmes-themed mystery “The Game’s Afoot,” is scheduled to open in November.

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