Rhode Island has lost some killer venues. The Living Room, Perishable Theater and Black Rep/Aurora just to name a few. You’re just getting to know the place, and then, blammo; closed forever. So, it’s encouraging, if not a little unexpected, to hear about a venue making a comeback with live theater.
This weekend, Epic Theatre Company is staging the first piece of theater at the Greenwich Odeum since it reopened in 2013. It’s an opportunity not only for Epic to explore a new space, but also for the East Greenwich and the West Bay to attract the Rhode Island theater scene.
The Greenwich Odeum is an historic venue. It was built in 1926 as a vaudeville theater, then converted to a full-fledged cinema, screening films until it closed in 1990. The vigilant efforts of local organizers resuscitated the space in 1994, but in the wake of the Station tragedy, strict fire codes forced the Odeum to close once again.
Flash forward to 2017.
The 400-plus seat space is undergoing renovations and another hundred seats are expected to be added to a new balcony. Though the Odeum still screens films, programming is mostly focused on live music with the occasional standup comedian. But what would a vaudeville playhouse be without some live theater?
Epic Theatre Company is banking on an anthology of new monologues to make live theater a mainstay at the Odeum. Their latest show, Epic Love Stories, is an exploration of the trials and errors of romance and the gushy stuff.
Monologue shows are sort of Epic’s bread and butter. It’s something artistic director Kevin Broccoli does especially well. Each monologue was composed for a specific performer, and each piece comes from Kevin’s forthcoming book, To Cleopatra on her 16th Birthday. Expect laughs, hot takes on famous historical figures and a showcase of Kevin’s acerbic and inappropriate, yet heartfelt, writing.
With many Rhode Island theater companies still nomads without a home, it’s important to establish more viable options for performance space. And it’s important to have Rhode Island theater companies in East Greenwich. But there are logistical concerns to the Odeum hosting a resident company any time soon.
There are, actually, lots of constraints to being a resident theater company at a live music venue (re: Aurora, Burbage). For example, rehearsals are especially tough. But one-night-only shows like Epic Love Stories could be the foot in the door to giving live theater some leverage in the live music domain. Do sketches, do short plays, do an improv show. As far as I’m concerned, the more venues saturated with theater programming, the better.
Epic Love Stories runs for exactly one night, this Sunday, September 24 at the Greenwich Odeum. Show up and support Rhode Island theater.