Keegan Theatre’s Church Street home may be still under construction but the show must go on. The show is Keegan’s annual seasonal offering An Irish Carol. Thanks to a generous partnership, Keegan can present the show at Theater J with the proceeds going to their ongoing capital campaign.
Written by Dublin native and Keegan company member Matthew J. Keenan, An Irish Carol is a modern fable set in a Dublin pub and runs December 26-28, 2014 at Theater J.
For this production of the comic and touching play, not only will all the actors and staff donate their time, Theater J has donated the use of their theater for the limited run engagement. “We’re so grateful to Theater J’s leadership for their generosity in providing us a space to perform this show,” said Mark A. Rhea, Keegan’s founder and producing artistic director. “An Irish Carol has become such a key part of Keegan’s holiday programming, and it’s just terrific that we don’t have to let this year go by without doing the show.”
Rhea is hoping that these five holiday performances will raise enough to help ensure that the basement level of the Andrew Keegan Theatre, known as artist’s space, will include rehearsal space, storage, office space, a green room, and even laundry space.
AN IRISH CAROL
December 26 at 8 pm
December 27 at 3 pm and 8 pm
December 28 at 3 pm and 8 pm
Keegan Theatre at
1529 Sixteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
1 hours, 20 minutes
Recommended for 16 and older
Details and Tickets or call 703-892-0202
“Obviously, the most important part of the renovations at Keegan is the performance space itself and the patron areas,” explains Rhea. “If we fall short on fundraising, the artist level and its corresponding line items would be the first to get dropped from the renovations budget. We had this idea to bring An Irish Carol back as an artists-helping-artists initiative, a new angle to the traditional fundraising we’ve been endeavoring for the last few years.”
Having recently returned from touring Ireland with the Keegan production of A Few Good Men, Mark Rhea spoke with Jeff Walker via email about the theatre renovations and the fundraiser production of An Irish Carol.
Jeff Walker: You left to perform in Ireland and came back to find the theatre in what kind of shape?
Mark A. Rhea: They started demolition after we were gone and by the time we returned it was pretty much just a shell!
Where do the renovations stand as of today?
The basement has been poured and the lower level weight bearing walls are being built to hold the upper level house and stage. The main lobby floor is already built and the elevator shaft is underway.
Have there been any surprises along the way?
Things have gone really smooth so far. The only surprises would be finding a 1899 quarter while excavating and a 1919 license plate stuck into the brick behind an old wall.
How is the relationship between Keegan and the architect and contractor?
Stoiber + Associates, the architects, and ThinkMakeBuild, the general contractor, have been amazing to work with and that goes a long way in how the process is run. We meet weekly so that we are all on the same page moving into the next week. It is impressive that both owners – Jeff Stoiber with S+A and Darren Kornas with TMB – are present at these meetings which isn’t usually the case. The working relationship we have with ThinkMakeBuild’s project manager – Rod McCoy – is superb! He is a great guy and he really cares about the project. He also connects well with the neighbors which was very important to me that we chose a general contractor company with employees that care about the neighborhood.
How is the schedule going?
The schedule for completion is May 15, 2015, for the main area for patrons and an additional four to five weeks for the lower level artist area. We plan to be in the building on stage rehearsing after May 15 and open first show late June, 2015. As of today, we are on schedule!
Have there been any financial challenges from the construction?
Not really so far, we planned and focused hard on this and worked together with both companies so that we had a clear understanding of things. We haven’t really gone over budget [Keegan raised $4.0 million for the renovation] at this time and looks like we will pretty much stay on budget.
What do you look most forward to when the renovations are done and you can open Keegan’s doors again?
First thing I plan to do is to ride the elevator and stop at each floor knowing that the building is now ADA accessible, which opens the door for folks who in the past couldn’t get into the space. That is huge! Also just to check out the five new patron bathrooms [why the bathrooms hold a special significance] and also the artist area that will have access from the back of stage. Then I’ll pop out on the Performer’s Patio for a cold beer!
An Irish Carol has become a tradition for Keegan. This time the performances have a renewed purpose. Tell us what it means for the theatre.
It means the world to me that the artists are donating their time to try and raise funds for the artist basement. We made a decision a long time ago not to include the artist area in the current budget. Later, that decision did not sit well with any of us at Keegan Theatre or the architect or contractor, so we are working on ways to finish it. When we received news we could use Theater J – which was very lovely of them – I hatched the plan to use the show as a way to raise some of the funds needed. It is a special moment for me to know that just by purchasing a ticket artists can help artists and see a lovely little show.
What is on Mark Rhea’s grown-up holiday wish list?
I am so grateful and fortunate and Keegan is as well for all the support we have received from all areas during this time. I couldn’t ask for anything more, so I will just say – the list is full.
An Irish Carol by Matthew J. Keenan . Directed by Mark A. Rhea . Featuring Jon Townson, David Jourdan, Susan Marie Rhea , Josh Sticklin, Timothy Lynch, Mick Tinder, Mike Kozemchak and Kevin Adams . Performed at Theater J Dec 26 – 28, 2014.