Patrons fund new stage remodel at Woodland’s Love Street Playhouse

Project funded by ‘Beyond the Limits’ campaign

WOODLAND — Love Street Playhouse in Woodland, got a recent facelift with its “Beyond the Limits” campaign funded exclusively by its patrons and hundreds of hours of volunteer labor. In it’s 12th season, the owners of the playhouse are taking what they believe is a “bold step into the future’’ by expanding its stage with the vision of adding a variety of shows, which in the past were limited by the size of the stage.

Patrons fund new stage remodel at Woodland’s Love Street Playhouse
Love Street Playhouse owners Lou and Melinda Pallotta, take a moment to thank the many donors and volunteers for such a successful project in their Beyond the Limits campaign. Photo courtesy of Bobby Pallotta

“The generosity of our patrons to give financially as well as contribute hundreds of hours of labor to expanding our stage is nothing less than overwhelming,” says Melinda Pallotta, owner and artistic director of Love Street Playhouse. 

“We reached out to our community with a hope and a prayer and what came back was shock and awe,” said Lou Pallotta, managing director.

The “Beyond the Limits” campaign was the brainchild of Lou’s since he arrived at Love Street four years ago. He immediately was drawn in by his now wife Melinda’s dream to create a cultural epicenter in the heart of Woodland. Both Melinda and Lou have been toying with the idea of expanding but found the resources to expand problematic at best.

Patrons fund new stage remodel at Woodland’s Love Street Playhouse
Built in 1940 by the Open Bible Church, Love Street Playhouse converted the building into a theatre in 2007. A stage extension was added, but the walls had to be worked around. This photo was taken the day before demolition of the old stage and walls. Photo courtesy of Lou Pallotta

Fast forward to June of 2019, during their performances of The Talisman Ring, they put together a Pledge Drive to measure the interest of the community in supporting the expansion. Because Melinda had already canceled her summer Youth Theatre Program, the couple knew they had a window of time in which to hopefully get a renovation done before the fall production.

They set an arbitrary goal of $5,000. 

“If we get to that number in pledges, we go,” they both agreed. The plan? Leave the rest to Lou. 

Patrons fund new stage remodel at Woodland’s Love Street Playhouse
After one week of demolition and five weeks of reconstruction, the new stage at Love Street Playhouse gets its first coat of paint. Photo courtesy of Melinda Pallotta

“Prior to every performance, we normally get up on stage to greet and thank our sponsors, season ticket holders and new patrons,” Melinda says. “But what Lou had in mind was to go Beyond the Limits. Every night of each performance, he would get up on stage, as is the routine, but this time Lou added a hard hat, which I dressed up with a campaign slogan and logo. Then we would proceed to explain what the pledge drive was about and Lou would hop up on a box and say, ‘We can do this the hard way or the easy way.’ Well the easy way was to just fill out the pledge form and hand it to any volunteer staff member during the performance. The hard way was collecting the money $1 at a time at which point he would start to wiggle and sing. The women in the audience loved it. They started waving dollar bills and hooting. Then he would tell the men, ‘The only way to stop this is to fill out a pledge form!’”

It worked. The Love Street couple were overwhelmed by the response that far exceeded their goal. In total, they have collected over $13,022 in pledges. They began the demolition July 1. and officially concluded the remodel August 10.

Patrons fund new stage remodel at Woodland’s Love Street Playhouse
The new stage floor going in at Love Street Playhouse. Walls, flooring and ceiling were removed as part of the remodel. The HVAC had to be moved as well as the theatre’s costume room, which used to reside over the stage ceiling. Photo courtesy of Melinda Pallotta

The Love Street Playhouse, originally built as a church in 1940, has always been limited by the original fixed walls and a ceiling where the stage is located. The goal was to tear out all of the walls and ceilings up to the roofline and then reconstruct a new stage floor. With the additional funds collected they were able to add some much needed utility to the remodel like HVAC and new power throughout the facility, which will assist with the new lighting over the stage.

“The expanded space gives us so much opportunity,” Melinda said. “And the next show, which opens in October, (Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None), is the perfect production to showcase the new space.”

A newly expanded stage, new lighting, reconfigured sound and two hearts filled with such gratitude for the people of this community is going to make the rest of season 12 a pure joy for the Pallottas.

“We can’t express enough how grateful we are to the people who contributed to this campaign. Love Street Playhouse is truly “Your” community theatre,” say both Melinda and Lou.

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