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Everyman about town.

BALTIMORE: In 1990, this port city saw one old theatre close its doors and a new one set up shop in a storefront. Now the twain meet, as Everyman Theatre, the scrappy upstart from the Station North arts district, moves into a long-shuttered vaudeville house, the Empire Theatre, a little over a mile away in the city's historic but blighted Westside.

"We've gone from about 10,000 square feet to about 40,000," marvels artistic director Vincent M. Lancisi, citing a growing subscriber base as the reason to leave the converted bowling alley Everyman has called home since 1994. The $17.7-million renovation of the Empire gutted the interior, carving out a new theatre space and adding a roomy lobby with a bar, an upstairs flexible space for rehearsals and performances, and a spacious scene shop. There was so much room for these extras because of the size of the new theatre: Though the Empire once seated 2,200, the new Everyman will seat 250--just 80 more than at the Everyman's old storefront (now occupied by Single Carrot Theatre).

"The architects knew how much intimacy meant to us, so they designed a theatre within a theatre," says Lancisi. (The architects, Cho Benn Holback + Associates Inc., also got one crucial detail right, Lancisi noted: "We tripled the size of the bathrooms.") The theatre's first production in the new space, opening Jan. 16, is August: Osage County, which, among other things, is a way of "celebrating our vertical space."

Around the corner are the newly restored Hippodrome Theatre and Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, part of what has been hopefully named the Bromo Tower arts district. It might be counted as a hopeful sign that, though the Empire Theatre, which opened in 1911, has gone by other names over the years--for a while it was a burlesque house called the Palace, then a movie theatre called the Town--it kept a prominent "E" carved on top of the building. That's one thing Everyman didn't have to change at all. Go to www.evegmantheatre.org.

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Title Annotation:NEWS IN BRIEF; theaters renovations
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1U5MD
Date:Jan 1, 2013
Words:340
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