By Seth Daniel
Everett elected officials mixed with some of the highest-ranking patrons of the arts in Boston as both parties – and property owner Eddie Owens – welcomed the Huntington Theatre Company’s new Production Center to Everett, a move that the theatre board members said was a the first part of a complete re-imagining of the Company.
The Production Center for the Company has been located next to the stage and theatre on Huntington Avenue for a long time, but a new, luxury housing-project caused the Center to have to relocate this year. While the theatre will stay intact for now, and will eventually be completely rebuilt with the luxury project, the sets and storage and props had to be relocated.
On Thursday, Aug. 10, at the ribbon cutting, Company brass said it was a time to reconsider the entire future of the Company – with the first step being to find a new place to build the sets, paint the sets, create the props and store the wardrobe/props.
After about a year of scouring every nook and cranny in Boston, they turned their sights to Everett – where they found a welcoming and natural home for the new Center.
“We looked all over metro Boston and we are so happy to be in Everett,” said David Epstein, chairman of the board. “Everett is a city with the wind at its back. We feel we got in on the ground floor before so many people realized it was such a great place to be.
“This is emblematic of what the Huntington staff does all the time: they pull a rabbit out of their hat,” he continued. “This is the first step in the journey that we are on right now to transform the Huntington Theatre Company. We’ve been a successful organization in Boston for 35 years, and we have ambitious plans about how to create the kind of facility that will entertain not just our children but our grandchildren.”
Speaking for Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Catherine Rollins DeNisi said the addition of the Huntington Theatre Company to Everett will be a great partner to have.
“We are so truly thrilled to have you here,” she said. “The Huntington Theatre Company is a well respected entity and it’s an honor for its Production Center to be here. You are getting in on Everett’s revitalization. We have space. We have the bones, the energy and the vitality. We hope you’ll bring friends and family here to show them what Everett is like. We are a cool little place and you are making us even cooler.”
Eddie Owens, owner of Owens Moving Company and landlord to the new Production Center on Garden Street, said his parents would have been extremely proud to see something like the Huntington Theatre coming to Everett to continue the momentum that’s building here.
“When my mother was growing up, she lived on Prescott Street in Everett and my father, since there wasn’t an MBTA, commuted to her home from Cambridge to date her,” he recalled. “If they were still alive today, they would be beaming to see the progress Everett has made…It is a happy day for Everett.”
Artistic Director Peter DuBois said the new Center will allow them to expand their mission to serve more theatre companies in Greater Boston.
“We are open for business,” said DuBois at Thursday’s ribbon cutting ceremony. “The Huntington Production Center is going to enable us to expand our community mission, and the Huntington will be able to serve more theatre companies in the Boston area. We will also be able to serve the burgeoning, expanding, growing television and film community and our special events community.”
Joked Managing Director Michael Maso, “In terms of those we can serve, if anyone ever builds a casino in town, we can help them too.”
The Huntington worked with Leggat McCall Properties (Boston) to select the Everett location and with Dacon (Natick) to design and build out the site. Construction was completed in June, the Huntington staff moved into the space in July, and work has begun to construct the sets of ‘Merrily We Roll Along,’ the Huntington’s season opening musical.
The new Huntington Theatre Company Production Center in Everett includes 25,000 square feet of production space, 18,000 square feet of storage space, and 4,000 square feet of office space, housing the company’s prop, paint, and scenic shops. The new facility features large, open, and flexible work areas and onsite prop, costume, and scenery storage, allowing Huntington staff to produce more complex design work in a more efficient workspace, and to build upon the Huntington’s community mission by expanding production services to other arts organizations, entertainment venues, and companies throughout the region. The Huntington’s former production facility, located at 252-258 Huntington Avenue and previously owned by Boston University, will become the site of a new building developed by QMG Huntington LLC who purchased the lot in May 2016.