Mark Rhea was rehearsing an emotional moment in Rabbit Hole – a difficult, heartbreaking play and next on the Keegan agenda – with his real-life wife, Susan. “It was this high-tension scene,” Rhea explained later. “I was in it with my wonderful wife, and suddenly I thought – we own this building!”
Indeed you do, Keegan Theatre, because at noon on Saturday, June 22 – Mark Rhea’s birthday and the birthday of the new Andrew Keegan Theatre building – the company officially closed on the 120-year-old building and the Church Street Theatre was theirs.
And so if Rhea was a little verklempt at the evening’s celebration to mark the launch of the new ownership, who could blame him? Earlier, he had taken a couple of whacks against the side of the building with a bottle of champagne (the bottle, showing surprising resiliency, merely shrugged off Rhea’s first effort), christening it like the prow of a ship.
In May of next year, the construction work will begin: digging out a basement, adding an atrium, building rehearsal and community space, expanding the green room and adding showers and a laundry, adding a second-story entrance, expanding the lobby and – the improvement which compelled an as-yet-unidentified donor to begin this project – expanding and modernizing the comfort facilities.
Between now and then, Keegan has scheduled a full 2013-2014 season, after which it intends to go dark for the six months it expects the modernization to take. ““We may have to cancel or add shows, depending on how the permitting process goes for the renovations – hopefully, our audiences will celebrate with us and understand that these are terrific problems to have,” Rhea says.