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Odeum nears completion, certificate of occupancy next hurdle

It’s been empty since 2007, but according to Frank Prosnitz, president of the Odeum Theater Corporation, the historic landmark could open as early as this fall. Prosnitz said they haven’t booked any acts for the grand re-opening of the theater since they have yet to receive their certificate of occupancy.

However, they expect to have the certificate finalized by the end of this month, or early in November. In anticipation of their re-opening, Prosnitz said they have booked the Greg Abate Quartet for Feb. 9.

“That’s engraved in stone,” he said.

But nothing else is. Work is still being completed in the historic Vaudeville playhouse-turned-movie-theater that again became a live entertainment venue in the 1990s.

“It’s still under construction, but we’re getting there,” he said. “It’s coming together.”

Prosnitz said they have spent about $200,000 on renovations so far. The biggest efforts have been in getting the Odeum up to fire code, which included the construction of a wall behind the stage and additional fireproofing measures.

The bulk of the funding came from a $142,000 Champlin Foundations grant. The rest of the money has been raised through fundraisers and from individual donors. Prosnitz said their seat plaque campaign, through which patrons could personalize the new chairs for $150 apiece, was also successful.

A company called Encore from Milwaukee helped the Odeum Corporation restore and replace the seats, which are now back in place and ready for patrons to occupy. The seats alone cost about $70,000, according to Prosnitz.

Volunteers have also been working to ready the Odeum for its re-opening, gathering periodically at the Main Street location to help remove rubbish and work on repairs that do not require contractors. The next volunteer day will be held this Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at the theater.

Throughout the renovations, Prosnitz said the Odeum Corporation has been working closely with the East Greenwich Fire Marshal and building inspector. He said the town has been extremely helpful and supportive throughout the process.

“It’s been a tremendous cooperative effort,” said Prosnitz. “We all want to see this theater re-open.”

In addition to the cultural aspect, Prosnitz said the theater’s re-opening will serve as an “economic uplift.”

Prosnitz said the inaugural show will showcase the rich Rhode Island arts community. The specifics of the program are currently in the works.

For more information about The Odeum, visit www.theodeum.org or find Greenwich Odeum on Facebook.


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