After having raised nearly half the $2.5 million needed for phase one renovations, the Denis Theatre Foundation started infrastructure work last month in the Washington Road theater with the goal of having the Encore Theater—the theater above the lobby—open to the public by early 2013. Many of the old seats have already been removed—a November seat sale did well—and when the theater opens, there will be a new concession area and renovated restrooms.
Helping move phase one along was a recent six-figure grant from the Eden Hall Foundation. In addition, actors F. Murray Abraham and Barbara Feldon, director Rob Marshall and artist Burton Morris (all Pittsburgh natives) have lent their names to the project as honorary advisory board members; Morris created the colorful artwork the foundation is using as its logo.
Phase two will involve raising another $2 million to update and renovate two more screens and add a stage for arts programming and special events.
With a new hotel set to open on Washington Road this summer and Uptown’s wealth of great restaurants and shops, the Denis Theatre Foundation is confident a reopened theater will be a draw. “We see the theater as playing a vital role in improving the main street viability of Mt. Lebanon” says Laura Buerger, Vernon Drive, the foundation’s chair of community gifts.
Until the “balcony” opens, the foundation will continue to host community events, including Denis Goes to The Oscars! event, Reel to Real: Conversations that Bring Movies to Life discussion groups at the Denis Theatre Foundation office in the Bognar Building on Washington Road and the summer’s Last Saturday Cinema, where fans can enjoy films outdoors at Clearview Common. To learn more about these programs or to make a donation, check www.denistheatre.org.