When Road Less Traveled Productions closed its season in May, the theater company also said good-bye to its longtime home located inside the Market Arcade Cinema. After a quick turnaround, they're ready to open another season at a near-century-old structure in Buffalo's Theater District.
"This building was built in 1924 for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. It was a private men's club," explained Scott Behrend, Artistic and Executive Director for Road Less Traveled during a tour of his new location at 500 Pearl Street.
"This whole building is concrete, steel and stone. All of the moldings downstairs are solid marble carved."
Behrend described an elaborate complex, one that contained a gymnasium, ballroom, a few hotel rooms, even a large safe. Aside from chipped paint and a few worn areas, the structure contains a grandeur that only in recent years has gained wide appreciation in downtown Buffalo.
The building was sold in the late 50's and was most recently known as the Buffalo Christian Center. It's now owned by Ellicott Development, who offered the space to Road Less Traveled.
Just as impressive as the structure itself, is how Road Less Traveled has modified the ballroom into a comfortable, intimate 90-seat theater. Long black curtains encase the audience while still allowing for views of a high, ornate ceiling. Lighting director John Rickus has erected a massive lighting set.
Behrend outlines how more space and amenities will provide a boost for his company's players. Men's and women's dressing rooms with backstage restrooms are among the most-welcomed additions.
"One of the most interesting things I'm looking forward to in this space is having a lobby. Having the bar is great, too, but having a lobby where people can actually congregate before and after a show," Behrend said.
"The Market Arcade was terrific, but it was more of broad, communal space for everything that was going on there."
Opening Road Less Traveled's new home will be a science fiction play written by Nichols graduate Bella Poynton called "Speed of Light." Starting this Friday, it runs through October 4th.
"There are still tickets remaining for Curtain Up!" Behrend pitched.
"You heard it here first, we're inviting the entire the Theater community to come down and have a drink at our bar after all the (Curtain Up!) shows are done for the night."