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Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company calls for supporting roles

Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company calls for supporting roles

Enchanted Playhouse asks for supporters to attend July 16 City Council meeting to plea for children’s theater company to remain at Main Street Theater, its home for more than 20 years

By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN

VISALIA – In the last 10 years, the Main Street Theater has played host to more than 2,000 performances by the Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company exposing over 300,000 students to live theater. Now the theater group is hoping those families will join them center stage at the July 16 Visalia City Council meeting to prevent the final curtain falling on the players and their theater. 

On its web site, the Enchanted Playhouse Theater Company is urging residents to attend the meeting beginning at 4 p.m. at the Visalia Convention Center to “let the council members know that you want the Enchanted Playhouse to STAY at the Main Street Theater!”

As of press time, the official agenda for the July 16 City Council meeting had not been released but Deputy City Administrator Leslie Caviglia confirmed that the meeting would be held at the Convention Center due to the expected crowd. She also confirmed that the first reading of an ordinance authorizing the sale of the property would be on the agenda. In order to sell the property, the Council must approve the ordinance with a four-fifth’s vote both on the first reading and second reading, which is expected to be on the agenda in August. The sale would then take effect 30 days following the council’s approval of the second reading.

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In February, the City Council authorized staff to release a request for proposal (RFP) for the sale of the Main Street Theater property, 307 E. Main St., in favor of a project “that will generate the greatest potential economic benefit to the downtown Visalia area and City of Visalia and further enhance the City’s ability to attract additional investment and economic activity in the downtown area.”

The deadline to turn in a proposal was April 20 and the property was listed under closed session on May 7 as an ongoing negotiation with Legacy Investments, a Visalia firm owned by the Shannon family. 

The RFP stipulated the property will not be sold for less than $450,000 and must “include an effort to maintain the theater’s façade will be considered.” Additionally, while not a requirement of the proposal, the City encourages bidders to consider potential uses of the adjacent Garden Street Plaza as the City would be interested in maximizing the use of this downtown feature. There is also the possibility that the building could remain a theater.

The City of Visalia has leased the theater to the Enchanted Playhouse, a children’s theater company, since 2005 for $3,000 per month on a month-to-month basis. The theater company is responsible for the general maintenance of the one-story theater which includes two mezzanine levels, one currently used as the sound and lighting booth but also for a considerable amount of storage, and the other as a dressing room.

The 8,500-square foot theater was originally built in 1949 as a movie house and is only one of five buildings with the unique domed honeycombed ceiling design to still exist in the country. The unique barrel roof covers most of the building and rises to a crown height of nearly 28 feet. There is a marquee sign attached to the front of the building over the ticket booth. It features a double-sided sign face with internal illumination. The architect of the theater is believed to have been S. Charles Lee who was a prominent motion picture theater designer in Los Angeles during the 1930s and 1940s. 

The Enchanted Playhouse Theater did not have enough money to pay the $450,000 to purchase the building on its own. The theater company does have a PayPal button on its web page to accept donations for the theater with an option to become monthly donor. 

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