Engaged in the ACT: Burrillville theater begins renovations, collaboration on new CTE pathway

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BURRILLVILLE – The non-profit, volunteer Patrons of the Assembly Theatre is collaborating with the Burrillville School Department to expand their artistic reach into the community, moving the location for an upcoming show, while taking the initial steps to help to create a new program for Burrillville students.

The theater group has announced that performances of Little Women, the Musical, originally scheduled for the Assembly Theatre stage in December, will instead take place in the Burrillville High School auditorium, with a set designed and built by Burrillville students, and town youth involved in nearly every aspect of the production.

And the temporary location change will allow the historic East Avenue venue to undergo some important renovations. 

Construction is underway to make the Assembly stage accessible to actors of all abilities, and other enhancements in the upcoming weeks will ensure the venue is ADA compliant.

The move marks the beginning steps of creating a performing arts CTE pathway for BHS students, and a long-term collaboration that will engage local youth with the venue, and compliment the goal of bringing quality entertainment, arts and culture to the northern Rhode Island community.

“The goal for this production is to include a diverse cast of all ages and abilities to create a production for everyone to enjoy this holiday season,” said Holly Dumaine-Picard, executive chairperson of the Patrons. Plus, she notes, “While these wonderful renovations are being completed, the show must go on.” 

The performance, put on by the theater’s in-house production company AssemblyACT, will take place Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3 and 4, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. The stage set for Little Women was designed and built by students in the Construction Management Pathway at BHS, accomplishing the educational goal of creating real-world opportunities to apply skills learned at the school.

When the doors of the school open to theatergoers December 4, volunteer student ushers will escort guests to their seats. Concessions will be provided by the high school’s music department booster club to further support the program’s initiatives at BHS.

AssemblyACT has produced a variety of cabaret-style shows and theatrical productions for all ages since 2019. The Patrons, a 501c3 non-profit group launched that same year, has served to increase the theater’s visibility and involvement in the community bringing life to the 354-seat venue, built by philanthropist Austin T. Levy in 1933.

“It is the mission of the Patrons of the Assembly Theatre to ensure that the Assembly Theatre serves to enrich our community and will continue to do so for future generations, while preserving its unique history,” noted a press release on the latest efforts. “We strive to ensure steady growth of community volunteerism, and cultivate Burrillville’s artistic culture, by providing quality programming and events year-round.”

As such, the venue, which offers various theatrical opportunities and family friendly events to residents of Burrillville and surrounding communities, has collaborated in recent years with A.T. Levy PTA; Inspiration Performing Arts; The Dance Step; Blue Edge Designs; Mike Scott Photography; Emerald City Theatrical Costumes; Advanced Production and Design; PVD Food Trucks; and R.A.M.P.; as well as other local arts organizations and non-profit community groups.

The Patrons always welcome new volunteers, with opportunities to help with everything from serving beer and wine to guests, to painting set pieces.

Situated on picturesque grounds adjacent to Harrisville Pond and waterfall, the Assembly Theatre maintains the quaint feel of community theater it has had since its inception nearly nine decades ago. The theater is managed by a Board of Administration established by Levy to oversee care of several facilities the mill owner donated to the town.

The BOA will fund the new improvements to accessibility, with work on creating a modern facility that is also ADA compliant.

Meanwhile, just down the road, tickets for Little Women will be available at the door. Tickets cost $20 and are also available now on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/assemblyact-little-women-tickets-185699049857

Theater fans note that such improvements, coupled with an ever-increasing presence and purpose in the community, have revitalized the venue, and will make the Assembly Theatre a valued resource in Burrillville and beyond, long into the future.

“We encourage all to attend this magical performance,” said Picard.

Visit the Assembly Theatre’s website for more information about all upcoming events, auditions, sponsorship and volunteer opportunities. 

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