ELKTON — Three years after Lee Lewis started leasing a property on Main Street, his dream of turning the building into a theater will finally be coming true as Showcase on Main plans to open its door Friday, Sept. 6.
Downtown Elkton has multiple venues for visual arts, including galleries at The Palette & The Page and the Cecil County Arts Council. But aside from the nearby Cecil College Performing Arts Hall and Elkton Station Gallery, as well as the various local restaurants and breweries where musicians sometimes perform, Lewis felt there was a dearth of spaces in town dedicated to the performing arts.
“If we have the slogan that ‘The Arts are Alive in Elkton’ then we should really represent all of the arts,” he said.
A few years ago, after running into Elkton Mayor Rob Alt at Minihane’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, Lewis found support for his theater idea.
“We went out the front door of Minihane’s and he pointed to this building and said ‘How about that one?’ And I said ‘That one’s perfect,’” Lewis said.
After talking to then-executive director of the Elkton Chamber & Alliance Mary Jo Jablonski and the building’s owner, Lewis took over the space located at 112 W. Main St.
Since then, the project has faced several stops and starts, which Lewis attributed mainly to financial setbacks. But after fundraising for the project, Lewis has been able to move forward with his plans.
Showcase on Main will open its door Sept. 6 during First Friday at which time people will be able to see the new space and get a glimpse of a rehearsal for their debut show. Characters from Sew Classy Princess Parties, based out of Wilmington, Del., will also be walking the street and greeting folks.
The theater will present its first show, “Songs for a New World,” with performances at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, and 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8.
According to Lewis, the costs of tickets will depend on the show, with ticket prices ranging from $15 to $20 for adults and less for children, seniors and veterans. For “Songs for a New World,” however, tickets will be $15 across the board.
Attendees of Elkton’s “Dinner Under the Stars” in June will recall the music from that show.
Ever since Lewis got the keys to the building, he said he knew he wanted Showcase on Main’s first show to be “Songs for a New World.”
“It is a show that is basically about building communities, starting fresh, making the best out of nothing,” he said. “I think that it is very appropriate with this renaissance that Elkton is going through to open with that show.”
When he first set up shop in the space on Main Street, Lewis said it needed a lot of tender loving care.
“This place was basically just stone walls,” he said. “There was no drywall. I had to take up the first layer of floor. It was kind of a disaster.”
But with lights strung up, walls given a fresh coat of paint, and continuing renovations underway, Lewis said Showcase on Main is coming together.
At its start, Showcase on Main will be very “bare bones,” Lewis said. Currently, he is borrowing lighting and sound equipment from a friend, and while other theaters are able to announce full seasons at a time, he said Showcase on Main will be unable to announce future shows until each current production pays for the next show’s royalties.
“It’s great that this will be open and we’ll have the money to do that, but now I’m definitely looking for sponsorships,” he said.
With time, Lewis hopes Showcase on Main will serve as a frequent provider of performing arts entertainment to residents of Elkton, Cecil County at large and beyond.
Showcase on Main will also pay for expenses by renting out its space for birthdays, work functions and other events, according to Lewis.
“It’s a nice open space that you can pretty much do anything with,” he said.
Once the theater is up and running, Lewis is hoping to open a small gallery area at the front of the building — in collaboration with The Palette & The Page — so theater patrons can view local art while waiting for a show to begin.
Ultimately, Lewis said his theater will be a win-win for Elkton as he expects it to draw more people to town.
“My hope is that they’ll go to a restaurant before the show, they’ll come here to see the show and then they’ll go to one of the bars after the show. And while they’re waiting for the show, they’ll go to the Teal Antler or Brookbends and buy some stuff as well,” he said.
When he set out to open his theater, Lewis said he had his doubts of whether it would be the right fit for Elkton. However, those doubts were washed away when crowds turned out for the “Dinner Under the Stars” event.
“I’ve always kind of questioned whether this town would be open to something like this, and that night answered my question,” he said. “It was a full house, sold out, and everyone loved it. Everyone was in awe of the performers and I can’t wait to make that a regular thing in Elkton.”