Bright Box Theatre hosts two concerts
Winchester — The Bright Box Theatre turned out to be a much larger undertaking than owner Marilyn Finnemore expected.
Creating a quality theater on the Loudoun Street Mall has been a dream for Finnemore since she and her husband, Aldo Bello, bought the Bright Center building in 2005.
With construction wrapping up this week, the dream is becoming a reality.
Although the grand opening is still months away, people can get a taste of what the theater will offer with “soft events” that will happen throughout the winter.
“We are not officially opening until the spring,” said Finnemore of Purcellville. “We are doing a variety of events with partners to make sure we can keep the downtown active this winter and work out the kinks before the grand opening.”
The Bright Center is the former location of Leggett’s Department Store, which moved to the Apple Blossom Mall and later became Belk.
The grand opening is projected for late April or early May, around the time construction on Loudoun Street is expected to end, she said. The project is replacing underground infrastructure along the Loudoun Street Mall, installing a new surface, and adding some ground-level amenities.
With the end of the theater’s construction, the first event in 2013 is two nights of concerts this Friday and Saturday at the theater, 15 N. Loudoun St.
“White Label Lounge,” a television show on the Roku channel Zom-Bee TV, will present a lineup of musicians Friday night aimed at edgy music fans who are 18 and up, said Pete Buchbauer, co-host of the show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.
Don’t Look Down, a pop punk band made up of Shenandoah University students, will open the show. They will be followed by Stella on Fire, an alternative rock band out of Dover, Del., featuring five guys who came together from different groups, said Buchbauer, who manages them.
The headliner for the evening is June Divided, a female-fronted alternative rock band out of Philadelphia, he said. The group, which has toured nationally, has a sound similar to the group Paramore.
“They are a lot of fun,” said Buchbauer of Winchester.
The bands playing Friday night are acts that are very “relevant to now,” said Josh Huff, Bright Box event coordinator. They will be louder and edgier and have a pretty specific audience.
“You would hear them on the radio or they are up and coming bands,” he said.
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students with I.D. and are available at the door.
Lydia Lewis of Stephens City will bring in a lineup of four bands with a slightly broader appeal Saturday night. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 8 p.m.
The evening begins with Little Groove, a Winchester-based variety band playing a little bit of everything — country, rock, oldies and popular music, Lewis said. Nathaniel Davis, an indie artist from Leesburg, will follow with a more classic rock sound.
Tierre Firme, a Winchester-based Latin jazz band that places a variety of Hispanic dance music, will perform third, she said.
The evening ends with Groove 11 Funk, in which Lewis is the drummer. The group plays oldies, jazz-inspired funk and original music, she said.
“Dancing is a big part of this,” she said. “The bands have more energy if people are dancing.”
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students with I.D. in advance or $20 and $15 at the door.
Both events will be hosted by the Winchester Main Street Foundation, which formed in 2012. The foundation is a nonprofit organization that will serve as a liaison and coordinator to the city of Winchester, the Old Town Development Board and other groups to help promote the different aspects of Old Town.
“I am hoping this brings a new energy to downtown,” foundation president David Smith said. “We have been needing a place like this.”
When it opens, the theater will be used for music, theatrical performances, film, art shows, speaking engagements, workshops, private parties and a variety of special events organizers are planning.
They are working on choosing soft events to set the tone for the theater and start making an impact in the cultural landscape, Huff said.
“We are not only looking to embrace what is here, we are looking to create events,” he said. “We want to create a center where your imagination is the only limitation to what we can do.”
The soft events will also help work out any bugs in the ticket process, sound and lights systems, Finnemore said. Other tasks will be nailing down concessions and training employees.
“We want to make sure when people come in here, they have a great experience,” she said.
The theater takes up 2,000 square feet with another 2,500 square feet for accompanying rooms such as a lobby, board room, kitchen area, bathrooms and what will become a box office and coat check room, Finnemore said. Basement space will be used as a greenroom and dressing rooms. The entire Bright Center is 40,000 square feet.
Inside the theater, a collapsible stage will be set up on one side of the rectangular room and can be shrunk or enlarged based on the events, Huff said. A sound booth overlooks the room from the back.
Different kinds of lighting have been set up on the walls and the ceiling to accommodate a variety of events, Finnemore said. There is no set seating, which gives flexibility to do a variety of events.
A long hallway connects the theater to the mall and, in the future, will feature artwork put up by the Shenandoah Arts Council, she said. A box office that is under construction will run along the hallway.
A lobby includes a 16-foot bar where people may buy food and drinks, Finnemore said. For this weekend, that will include popcorn, beer and wine.
In the future, she wants to add refreshments such as pizza, quiche, dessert and other light finger foods.
The theater was the last part of the Bright Center to be renovated and was truly “a labor of love,” Finnemore said. “We saved the best for last.”
Finnemore, who has been a member of the Old Town Development Board for five years, said she brings a background in promotions, media and business to running the Bright Center, as well as a “deep appreciation for the arts and passion for building up downtowns.”
Winchester Main Street Foundation will host music performances Friday and Saturday at the Bright Box Theatre, 15 N. Loudoun St.
“White Label Lounge” will present a lineup of musicians Friday night aimed at edgy music fans who are 18 and up. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students with I.D. and are available at the door.
Lydia Lewis will present a different lineup of dance bands Saturday night. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the music starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students with I.D. in advance or $20 and $15 at the door.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the Saturday concerts, go to lydialewispresents.com.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com