Wayne Theatre raises curtain after 16-year renovation

It’s been more than 16 years since the Wayne Theatre last hosted a public event.

“It’s been a long, long haul,” said Bill Hausrath, who spearheaded the effort that has led to the return of the Wayne, to be marked on Tuesday with a Sneak Peek Premier event beginning at 7 p.m.

The newly christened Wayne Theatre Ross Performing Arts Center will formally open on Friday night with a sold-out show featuring Robin & Linda Williams, tipping off a busy schedule of events throughout the spring and summer that includes movie nights on Mondays and monthly shows featuring Wilson Fairchild and the Shenandoah Jamboree.

The theatre’s executive director, Tracy Straight, led members of the local news media on an hour-long tour of the $10 million facility on Monday, showcasing the 385-seat auditorium, the 100-person-capacity Custin Cabaret, a 125-person capacity lecture hall and the state-of-the-art backstage and production areas.

“The opportunities here with this space are amazing,” Straight here. “This is the community’s largest classroom. It’s a place where people can come together to be educated and enlightened, and enchanted, and enriched.”

And that all begins Tuesday night at the Sneak Peek Premier, which features a performance by the acclaimed duo of Peter Wilson, violinist, and Aaron Clay, double bassist.

Seating is limited for the event. Tickets are $100 per person. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. A reception after the event will take place on the main stage featuring William Hayes on the piano, with exclusive backstage tours also part of the festivities.

Hausrath, the chairman of the Wayne Theatre Alliance, will offer remarks at the premier event noting the hard work of the scores of people who have seen the renovation effort through many highs and many lows over the past 16-plus years.

“We woke up a lot of mornings wondering how we were going to get there, because there were a lot of obstacles. But we’ve had all along a great group of volunteers, a tremendous group of Steady Eddie type of supporters, both financially and emotionally and attendance-wise,” Hausrath said.

And now it’s time to turn on the lights and get the show started.

“It has been quite a roller coaster,” Straight said. “Sixteen years since the very first meeting. And it’s here. It’s happening.”

Indeed, it is.

“We think the public will be thrilled. Certainly this is a great moment for Waynesboro,” Hausrath said.

– Story by Chris Graham/Photos by Crystal Graham

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