Well I got home from my volunteer duties at the Grand Opening event at The Hanover Theatre about an hour ago. I can say from what I witnessed the opener went off without any hiccups to a near capacity crowd and everyone that I saw in attendance seemed to have a great time and enjoy themselves, the show and the atmosphere of this grand old building.
There has been some naysayers online recently whether it is in blog posts or comments on the T&G website regarding the viability of the theater and the ability that it can have to kickstart the downtown transformation that this city needs. Maybe it is because I didn't grow up in Worcester or the immediate surrounding area and I wasn't around for the failure of the mall/outlets that I am more optimistic than most. I've only been living in this city for 14 months at this point and I will freely admit that one of the reasons we chose Worcester was because the potential for this city is there. We wanted to be as close to "a city" as we could be and be able to purchase something we liked and could afford. And that lead us to Worcester... A city that can support an endeavor such as The Hanover Theater because of the density of Worcester proper and its environs.
So at this point we both figure the least that we can do is lend a couple evenings a month of our time to support the theatre. At the same time I can do my small part to interact with more people from the area than I would under any other circumstances and provide a smile and hospitality. I look at these volunteer positions as ambassadors to the city. I want to make the folks that come to the theater feel as if they had an experience that was on par with any show they would go see in Boston. And with that people will return and word of mouth can grow and this new theater can thrive.
No doubt there will be plenty of discussion regarding the acts that the theater brings in. I'll admit that I was not overwhelmed by the initial lineup, but there is something for everyone, from Hairspray to Stomp to David Copperfield to The Saw Doctors. And today's announcement of the George Carlin date is certainly a step in the right direction in regards to booking talent.
So those are my thoughts about the theater as a whole.
I won't go into a big long dissertation about the night, but I must say with the small amount of mock training that all us volunteers had over the past two weeks we all did a heck of a job getting folks seated in the right place. Having the paying customer all coming in to find their seats for the first time while soaking in the building for the first time and checking out the chandelier and talking amongst themselves is not something you can practice. I was able to catch Bernadette Peters sing 4 songs Little Willie John/ Peggy Lee's "Fever". She was in good voice throughout and looked glamorous on stage. You wouldn't guess that she was 60!
After the show all the Central Massachusetts heavy hitters that put on their evenings best seemed to have had a great time and enjoyed the experience. As long as the theater can consistently pull in solid acts there is no reason The Hanover Theatre can not be a viable and successful venue.