Originally created 08/27/99

Volunteers to restore Imperial's glow



Expanding Saturday's volunteer cleanup of the Imperial Theatre to include the public is an appropriate gesture, according to the historic theater's new executive director -- even if it wasn't the original intention.

"I think this theater is part of the community and the community needs to take ownership," said Greg Goodwin, who started work as the theater's executive director on Aug. 2.

The cleanup, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, was supposed to be a day for members of Augusta's various arts organizations that use the facility -- from actors, dancers, musicians to administrative staff and board members -- to whip it into shape before the performance season begins. But organizers decided to solicit volunteers from the community.

The more, the merrier, they say.

"Any able-bodied person, please come," said Kathie Saul, office manager of Augusta Ballet.

Participants are asked to bring cleaning supplies. Food and drink will be provided, including soft drinks and pizza.

The cleanup fits in with Mr. Goodwin's plan to restore the venue to its original luster. He wants to dedicate a wall in the theater to Imperial memorabilia and plans a plea to the public for pieces of the Broad Street institution's past -- from chandeliers and fancy mirrors that once adorned the great hall to tickets and playbills from historic performances.

"What I'd really like to find is the original blueprint," he said. "I know there are pieces of the past floating around out there."

On Saturday, workers will scrape paint from the ceiling, "instead of having it hanging there with cobwebs all over it," said Mr. Goodwin.

Smudges will be erased from dressing-room walls and debris removed from the alley beside the theater.

Mr. Goodwin, who previously worked as finance director for the Morris Museum of Art, also wants to make the theater safer for patrons. Brass railings in the women's restroom, which were held together with duct tape, were recently secured with bolts -- and polished up.

"I want the theater to be safe -- then look good," he said. "Cosmetics are fine, but my first concern is safety."

During the past year, other physical improvements -- including the replacement of interior and exterior doors, the stage floor and subfloor, installation of new stage curtains and upgrades to lighting and electrical systems -- were completed.

Also, the main entry hall and concession area were recarpeted, and the beige interior was painted antique white.

As for the campaign to replace the theater's rickety, rocking seats, $17,000 has been pledged to the project, Mr. Goodwin said.

"That's going to be one of my main thrusts," he said.

The 800-seat theater is operated by a nonprofit organization. It is home to productions by the Augusta Opera, Augusta Players and Augusta Ballet, among others.

Mr. Goodwin wants to increase the Imperial's use as a venue for touring productions, perhaps show artsy movies and hold pop music concerts.

"I want to look at all avenues of bringing entertainment in here," he said. "I'm open to all options."

Mopping up

What:Imperial Theatre volunteer cleanup

When:10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where:Imperial Theatre, 745 Broad St.

Phone:826-4710 or 261-055

Kent Kimes covers entertainment and arts for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3626 or kkimes@augustachronicle.com.