AUBURN — If the turnout at Saturday’s open house is any indication, Lisa Chase’s plans of making the West End Theater a performing arts hub in Auburn is well on its way.
The open house for the West End Theater, Auburn’s newest performing space, drew more than 100 people to an afternoon of performances by local theater groups. The theater will allow the Finger Lakes Musical Theater Festival to expand its youth theater and education programs, said Chase, who is the artistic director for those programs.
In addition, the theater festival plans to rent the 650-seat theater to other local theater groups, she said.
“We want this to be an arts hub in Auburn,” Chase said.
The new theater is in what was the auditorium of the old West Middle School on Genesee Street in the city’s west end. The school closed in 2011 and the building was sold. Two Plus Four Management is converting the building into apartments and renting the auditorium space to the festival.
Saturday’s open house drew people interested in live theater, as well as people who wanted a look around at the renovations at the old school.
Visitors were greeted with an opportunity to try on costumes and have their faces painted.
“It’s a great day to be a kid,” said Lisa Robillard, of the Merry-Go-Round Theater.
Visitors also watched performances by the MGR Youth Theater, MGR Junior Stars, the Absolute Dance Company and Auburn Theater.
The city has performance space at the Auburn Public Theater, located downtown on Genesee Street. Schines Theater LLC plans to renovate the Schine Theater, a 1938 Art Deco movie theater, on nearby South Street, into a civic center that would host plays, live music, events and weddings. A $12 million renovation is planned.
Chase said she sees the West End Theater as a supplement to those projects.