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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Proposed Public theater at Fellowship Village possible future home for Trilogy Repertory Company and Light Opera of New Jersey

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The Bernardsville News reports that the proposal for a public theater at the Fellowship Village retirement community continues to draw scrutiny at the latest Planning Board hearing on Tuesday, June 2, with questions focusing on a large component known as a fly tower.

A fly tower, which a majority of theaters do not have, is a high apparatus to the rear of a stage that unfurls the artistic background or scenery for a play. The proposed apparatus would be 42 feet high and more than 40 feet wide, and its enclosure would be the tallest part of the addition.

Several board members asked if it was common for theaters, particularly in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) like Fellowship Village, to have a fly tower.

Project architect David Denton said he was aware of only three within “a reasonable distance,” including one in suburban Philadelphia. But he said the prospect of a fly tower appeals to two local theater groups, Trilogy Repertory Company and Light Opera of New Jersey, which would use the theater if it receives approval.

“The idea is to enliven the campus and bring better productions and shows to people living in Fellowship Village,” Denton told the board.

He said if the development is to remain competitive with other CCRCs, it must raise its profile by offering a resource to its residents and the surrounding community. He said other CCRCs were forming “strategic partnerships” with hospitals, colleges and health clubs to enhance their appeal.

At the same time, Denton stressed that the proposed facility was actually a flat multipurpose room and more than just a theater. With a capacity of 240 seats, he said it would offer space for banquets, assemblies and celebrations that the existing, 80-seat multi-purpose room cannot provide.

The hearing, which was the eighth since March 2014, was ultimately carried to the board’s next meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 16, at town hall on Collyer Lane. The project engineer will return to field questions on prior testimony, and a traffic consultant will then testify.

Fellowship Village consists of a 257-unit CCRC with a health center off Allen Road. Fellowship Senior Living, a not-for-profit group that runs the complex, is seeking board approval for about 83,000 square feet of additions.

The community center expansion would include the theater. Trilogy and Light Opera would combine to annually stage 12 to 24 public performances, all on weekends.

Read the complete article.

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