Children’s Theater holiday show set for Schwartz Center

DOVER — While community discussions continue to devise a plan to reopen the Schwartz Center for the Arts at least one production will take place at the South State Street venue this month.

The Children’s Theater will perform its holiday show there on Nov. 17 and 18.

“We’re just thrilled to get people back in the seats,” said Dover City Council President Tim Slavin, who has coordinated the re-opening initiative, Friday. “What a great moment for our community. Wesley and the Children’s Theater help kids to make their dreams come true and perform on the big stage. I can see a theater full of proud parents and grandparents already. Bravo to everyone.”

Children’s Theater President Patricia Beetschen announced in a news release that the Schwartz Center will be the venue for the group’s upcoming performance of “A Dickens Christmas Carol.”

Ms. Beetschen, who is directing the production, said that reopening the Schwartz for the two-day production was a cooperative effort between Wesley College and the Children’s Theater facilitated by Mr. Slavin. He said in the release that “reopening the doors to Dover’s premier center for the performing arts is good for Dover and demonstrates the interest the community has in revitalizing the Schwartz Center.”

In late October, about 40 representatives of arts organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses and city government gathered in an informal meeting to plan the reopening of the Schwartz, which closed June 30 citing financial troubles.

The next step is a November charette, or workshop of stakeholders, who will discuss four goals for getting the building, owned by Wesley College and Delaware State University, reopened. They are: governance (what the governing structure is), finance (fundraising and development), operations (what’s involved in hosting events), and talent and booking.

The Schwartz’s closure this summer wasn’t the first time the stage went dark in the 550-seat theater. After decades of operation, the original Capital Theater closed in 1982. It reopened in 2001 after an aggressive, capital campaign driven by the Friends of the Capitol Theater, raised $3.3 million to renovate and modernize the building.

Funds included $1.3 million from the General Assembly and $1.2 million in grants from philanthropic groups, including the Longwood Foundation and Delaware Community Foundation.

Performances of “A Dickens Christmas Carol” will be held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. For information, visit www.thechildrenstheatre.org.

Ashley Dawson is managing editor of the Delaware State News. Email adawson@newszap.com.

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