A new home for ShenanArts

Story by Chris Graham

ShenanArts unveiled its new home on Thursday – and had a couple of friends over to mark the occasion.

“Ntelos has been very supportive of ShenanArts for a number of years. We certainly appreciate that. And they’ve shown their support here again and upped the ante,” said Mike Conner, the chairman of the Board of Directors for the children’s theater nonprofit, which is moving into Gypsy Hill Place in Staunton.

The theater will be known as ShenanArts at Ntelos Theater with a financial gift from the Ntelos Foundation that is going toward the $150,000 renovation of the auditorium at the former R.E. Lee High School.

Octagon Partners of Charlottesville is leading a $20 million renovation of the high school into Gypsy Hill Place, which will also feature 62 senior-living apartments and become the new home of the Staunton Senior Center.

ShenanArts gets a 350-seat theater out of its end of the deal.

“This probably represents one of the biggest milestones in our history, apart from opening some 28 years ago on a farm in a barn. I think as a community theater that we have come a tremendous ways,” Conner said.

ShenanArts also announced the production that will open the new theater – Hairspray, which will premiere on Aug. 12.

“The pressure is on us to produce quality programming at this new location,” Board Vice Chair Diane Stewart said. “We feel up to the challenge. We’ve got a dedicated working board and group of volunteers who have been in here consistently. We want to make this the place for theater of this kind in town.”

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