Keene’s Colonial Theatre gears up to welcome audiences back

Keene’s Colonial Theatre is preparing to host events once again after a year of renovations.

Executive Director of the Colonial Theatre Alec Doyle said the renovation project has three major components. This includes a complete renovation of the main house.

The interior of the theatre has been opened up to be more spacious. “What used to be a very narrow or what I call ‘bowling alley’ kind of lobby is now completely opened up to the north and south of the building. We’ve increased the size of the lobby by about four times,” Doyle said.

This increased spacing allows room for a new concessions bar that has been added to the inside of the theatre. “It’s completely changed over in terms of the look and the dimensions of it,” Doyle said.

However, the building’s exterior will maintain its historic look, as to not violate any of the city of Keene’s Historic District standards. “We’ll be having an echo of the existing kind of color scheme and finishes that exist in the historic theater. We didn’t want it to stray too far, so I don’t think people will be jarred by that,” Doyle said.

The second major renovation was recently completed: a new venue space called Showroom. “This is the venue called Showroom which is a flex space, anywhere from 140 to 260 people,” Doyle said. “That was the first thing we started on. It’s an existing building that was renovated during COVID.”

The Showroom venue was an additional space acquired by the Colonial Theatre last year. Located directly behind the existing theater, Showroom is “a smaller, multipurpose venue tailored for emerging artists, local performers and educational programming,” according to the Colonial Theatre website.

The renovation of the Showroom space took six months to complete, and is currently open for events. Most notably, Showroom will be the central venue for the Monadnock International Film Festival (MONIFF), set to begin on October 21.

MONIFF will take place in-person and virtually feature over 50 films, workshops and live Q&As from filmmakers around the region.

Despite some audience hesitancy about attending the festival in-person, Doyle hopes audiences will attend to support local filmmakers. “People are still not coming back and the numbers that they will eventually or that they did prior to COVID. But I’m hopeful that people will show up because they want to have that experience of watching a film with other people,” Doyle said.

Doyle said the Colonial Theatre is on track to officially reopen in April 2022. “We have events on the calendar for April [and] May of next year,” Doyle said. “We’re heading for that timeline to have it completed in March, have the final systems worked through in the last part of March, and be fully ready to open basically the first weekend in April.” While Doyle could not disclose specific information about the 2022 season, he encourages audiences to attend not only MONIFF, but also the other events happening in Showroom this season, “We’ve got things happening this weekend and pretty much every weekend between now and the end of the year.”

Marketing Director Martha Haas and Director of Production and Facility Greg Moore directed The Equinox to other sources.

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