Photo by Jay Paul
Annie Colpitts and DeeJay Gray, TheatreLAB’s managing and artistic directors
Last fall, a downtown property owner offered TheatreLAB’s managing director, Annie Colpitts, and artistic director, DeeJay Gray, something they’d only dreamed of — a permanent place in which to produce their works. It’s a gritty, paint-chipped basement beneath 300 E. Broad St. And it’s perfect.
The three-story building had once housed a clothing store, and when the TheatreLAB crew started their massive cleanup, they noticed, around the low ceiling, images of children dressed as nursery rhyme characters — including Jack and Jill. “We think this might’ve been the children’s department,” Colpitts says.
TheatreLAB has a five-year lease for the space, which features a theater that will seat up to 100 people, and there’s a fortuitous niche for the technical booth and room for a bar. The basement also provides a green room and meeting space, storage and even a back load-in door. The ceiling is lower than most playhouses, which will require some inventiveness. “We’re accustomed to putting up shows in different places, each with their own challenges,” Colpitts says. “So we feel like we were training for this.”
It’ll provide an ideal setting for TheatreLAB’s production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a rock biography-in-concert co-produced with Spin, Spit & Swear, a new company founded by Matt Shofner, Maggie Roop and Chanelle Vigue (Oct. 23 to Nov. 15, $15 to $25). This will be followed in December by Mr. Winter and the Frosty Flakes, with Todd Patterson as Mr. Winter, the frontman in a bottom-barrel singing group on the verge of a breakup prior to a Christmas concert.
The season continues through July and includes an April production of Harrison David Rivers’ When Last We Flew at Richmond Triangle Players during RTP’s staging of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. The TheatreLAB show concerns a young Kansas man who steals his library’s only copy of Angels and locks himself in the bathroom to absorb its message. “Magical things happen,” Gray says.theatrelabrva.com.