Tuesday, January 10, 2006

National's Curtain to Rise Again

Dark for over 20 years the National Theatre, at 704 E. Broad St., is in the process of changing hands. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports today that Historic Richmond Foundation, owner of the 1923 vintage theater since 1989, has agreed to sell the National to RIC Capital Ventures. It is slated to become a concert hall.

“‘Aggressively, we’d like to open before the end of 2006,’ said Brad Wells, a partner with the company. ‘We’ve got a great theater shell. There’s a lot we’re going to preserve.’ The sales price is nearly $1.6 million, Wells said.

“RIC Capital Ventures is affiliated with James River Entertainment, which produces the Innsbrook After Hours concert series and the Loudoun Summer Music Fest and other concerts. Wells said James River Entertainment plans to book events at the National in consultation with Rising Tide Productions, which owns and operates the NorVa, a restored 1,500-capacity theater in Norfolk. While details about the planned restoration are incomplete, the National is expected to accommodate 1,500 patrons with no fixed seating, much like NorVa, Wells said.”

The National’s volunteer caretaker Jim Whiting (mentioned in the RT-D’s story) deserves to get a medal for his 15-year effort to watch over/preserve that wonderful old theater. Although the news piece didn't mention if the theater's ghost was thrown into the $1.6-million-deal, there is a nice nine-picture slideshow at the RT-D site.

Sarvay at Buttermilk & Molasses has more on the story and some links for background.

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