AUBURN - Angela Daddabbo is not waiting for renovations to be completed before inviting the public in for a view of her new theater space downtown.
“We're going to Scotch tape it together a bit,” Daddabbo said. “People are going to have to be forgiving at first.”
The Auburn Public Theater will hold an open house Thursday at its new site, the former Paul's Pocket Billiards in downtown Auburn. Daddabbo said the building, which years ago housed the Grant Department Store, has been inspected and found up to code.
“It's a chance to walk the public through the space so people can see the before as well as the after,” Daddabbo said.
Renovations will take up to two years.
Daddabbo also isn't waiting for the renovation to stage shows. Negotiations are under way to bring in a stand-up comedian in mid-February.
Jill Fudo, an architect with Ten Penny Design who's working on the theater, said the space will feature a gallery from which all performance spaces open. Another goal is to improve the appearance of the building.
“Right now it's an old, dilapidated facade that really needs updating,” Fudo said.
The public will enter the theater from the Exchange Street Mall side. The glass entry with a canopy will have “clean lines,” Fudo said.
Renovations will cost about $500,000, Daddabbo said. Daddabbo and her husband, Carey Eidel, owners of Daddabbo's Pizza, purchased the building in October for $200,000 with help from M & T Bank's Tom Colvin.
In total, Daddabbo plans a 99-seat theater, a second-run movie house and a retail space.
“The idea is to create a cultural center downtown,” Daddabbo said.
The movie theater would feature short films, children's films such as “Sleeping Beauty,” independent movies and foreign films.
Theater principals have not yet decided the seating structure in the black-box performance space, but have risers on which seats can sit. With the risers on wheels, staff could move the seating to best suit each production.
“We're not wanting to limit ourselves at this point,” Daddabbo said. “We're trying to figure out the engineering of it all.”
The theater will share content with the Kitchen Theatre in Ithaca, a 73-seat theater that features original production and established repertory. Auburn's theater plans to present plays by the Kitchen Theatre's Rachel Lampert, artistic producing director.
In Auburn, Daddabbo also plans to offer stand-up comedy, poetry, children's programming, as well as renting out the space to the community for special event programming.
“It's going to be available to everybody to come to use it,” Daddabbo said. “We really want to make it a destination.”