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Major renovation at York Little Theatre this summer

JESSICA SCHLADEBECK
YorkDispatch

The York Little Theatre, in spite of its name, is anything but.

All of the 200-some seats in the main stage theater are among many aspects slated for upgrade in a $100,000 renovation taking place this summer as part of an ongoing effort to restore the historic building.

"It's not called the Little Theatre because we're small or because we do shows for children, a lot of people don't realize that," said executive director Lyn Bergdoll.

The theater, built in the 1930s, used to house the Elmwood Movie Theater and served as a happy outlet for those struggling through the Great Depression.

Community: "The Little Theatre movement was established during the Depression, and it gave members of the community the chance to be a part of and offer the entertainment," Bergdoll said. "So in that sense 'little' is actually referring to community."

And it is thanks to the community that the summer renovations — which also include a new royal purple curtain, new carpeting in both the main theater and the lobby and new lobby furniture — can occur, Bergdoll said.

This project is being funded by a gift from an anonymous donor, and more than 50 local businesses and organizations over the years have donated goods and funds to fuel overall renovation efforts that began two and a half years ago, Bergdoll said.

With more than 80 seasons on the books, "not many community theaters can say that they have been running that long, continuously," Bergdoll said. "It is a true testament to this community, it is to their credit that they have been so generous and have helped us endure."

Upgrades: The theater's current production, "The Addams Family," is set to open June 19 and will run through the 28th, after which renovations will begin.

"After they strike the set, which is so huge and over the top it's breathtaking, they'll come in and tear up the carpets and pull the seats out, and they also will increase the size of the sound area in the back of the theater," Bergdoll said.

The project is expected to be complete in September, a few weeks before opening night for "Disney's Aladdin Jr.," which will feature children 18 and under, Bergdoll said.

The project will in no way delay the company's fully booked 2015-16 season, she said, noting they will take advantage of the August production, "Always ... Patsy Cline" being set in the black-box theater, Bon-Ton Studio.

Last summer, the theater completed renovations on the studio, which re-opened to audiences this past fall.

Additionally, all of the curtains other than the one on the main stage were replaced, and projectors were added to the space last year.

The last major expansion was in the '90s, Bergdoll said, when the black-box theater, costume shop and green room were added and the restrooms were upgraded.