PEABODY — With the sound of Corey and Sarah Jackson belting out “Suddenly Seymour” from the catwalk, the curtain officially rose on performances at the new Black Box Theater.
Located within the ArcWorks Community Art Center on Foster Street, Peabody’s Black Box Theater will provide employment opportunities for local actors, musicians, set builders, ticket sellers, and concession workers, according to Jo Ann Simons, Northeast Arc’s CEO.
“I can’t believe it’s been transformed into this,” Simons said at a donor appreciation reception at the former warehouse space Wednesday evening. “Tonight is a celebration of the Arc’s partnership with the city of Peabody to be a part of the movement to make the downtown a destination. The more restaurants and cultural assets we have, the more opportunities there are for employment, artistic expression, for the community, and for people of all abilities.”
Northeast Arc employs people with disabilities at its inclusive businesses, including the Breaking Grounds Cafe on Main Street, Heritage Caning, Heritage Shredding, and Shine Jewelry.
“We are lucky to have Northeast Arc in our community,” said Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. “What was just a warehouse is now a real theater in the city of Peabody. This is a great new space for all kinds of gatherings.”
The mayor said the theater ties in with many of the downtown enhancements already in place or in the works, including the renovation of the O’Shea building, several new restaurants coming to Main Street, and plans for a statue of George Peabody on recently purchased land across from City Hall.
Councilor-at-Large Tom Gould, the chair of the Friends of the Black Box Committee, thanked the many donors, large and small, who gave more than $500,000 over the past year to make the theater a reality.
“Hey, we did it,” Gould said. “We have a black box theater right here in downtown Peabody.”
While it was a night to thank donors and volunteers, it was the performances that were the hit of the evening, showing the kind of entertainment the theater can bring to the city.
In addition to Corey and Sarah Jackson, the program also featured pianist John Archer; Peabody High Jazz Band members Gabe Goldman, Neil Sherman, and Kyle Souza; YMCA of Metro North dancers Amber Amadis, Dyasia Long, and Khaliyah Todd; and Molly Pinto Madigan.
The public can get their first glimpse of a performance at the Black Box Theater when the Accidentally on Purpose Comedy Improv Troupe performs on Saturday night.
The troupe, which features Peabody resident Ted Neary, has a style similar to the hit TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway?”
The comedy night is 21 over, with doors opening at 7 p.m. and the performance beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets available online at www.bit.ly/improvmarch31st.
That show and a musical revue on May 19 featuring New York artists David Macaluso and Caitlin Burke will benefit the theaters fundraising for a permanent lighting and sound system.
There is a temporary lighting and sound system in place, but Gould said efforts are underway to raise $80,000 for a permanent system for the theater.