Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2013

SALISBURY — Named for donors Tom and Martha Smith, Salisbury’s newest theater and performing arts center will open on schedule Nov. 7 in its new home at 329 N. Lee St.
Officially dubbed the Lee Street Theater & Performing Arts Center at the Tom & Martha Smith Event Center, the renovated warehouse at the corner of North Lee and Kerr streets will be known as Lee Street Theater.
Lee Street has announced that tickets go on sale Monday for the opening show, “All The Great Books (Abridged)” starring Jacob Asher, Jason Roland and Brian Romans. The trio starred last year in Lee Street’s hit “The Complete History of America (Abridged)” from the same creators.
Lee Street’s new home is a 9,000-square-foot performing arts center — the former Peeler-Miller warehouse. Artistic director Justin Dionne said construction is on schedule and under budget, thanks in large part to volunteer labor. The theater’s capital campaign is still under way, and Dionne said they’ve raised about 80 percent of their $1.5 million goal.
“We have just shy of $250,000 left to raise,” Dionne said. “We are opening but by no means are we done fundraising.”
Organizers thought it would take up to three years to raise the money, but the campaign kicked off just a year and a half ago. Lee Street will honor all donors with a private toast Nov. 6, the night before the theater opens to the public.
Donor blocks in the lobby are still available for a $1,000 gift, payable over three years. The center has additional naming opportunities, including the black box theater.
The space has flexible seating, and Lee Street will seat about 140 people for the first show.
“We still wanted to stay small,” Dionne said.
Al Wilson is the general contractor and Jon Palmer is the architect for the new space. Until now, Lee Street has rented the Black Box Theater across the street at Looking Glass.
The new space is available for rent for special events and will host music concerts and touring acts, as well as serve as the permanent home for St. Thomas Players, another Salisbury theater company.
“Both of these companies will use this space to continue to bring new, original, challenging works to Salisbury and the Piedmont region of North Carolina,” Dionne said.
Tickets for the Nov. 7 opening show are $15 and will be available online or by calling 704-310-5507.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.