FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Since acquiring the Fairfield Community Theater last May, Sacred Heart University has endeavored to renovate the historic building from the ground up as a new, state-of-the-art facility for film events and live performances.
Bringing the theater back to its former glory has entailed challenges, but with community support, Sacred Heart is determined and committed to restoring all the iconic theater’s memorable features, including its neon marquee, ticket booth and stage proscenium.
“We’re creating a premier cinema, stage and educational experience at this historic venue and bringing great entertainment and performing arts back to the town square at the corner of Post and Unquowa roads,” said Bill Harris, theater director. “We’re installing new seats, a digital projector, screen and sound system. We’re also extending the stage so we can host a wide range of music, live performances and community events. In addition, we will introduce some free, after-school programs, master classes, eSports, matinees and dinner-and-movie nights.”
With all of these additional goals for the SHU Community Theater, Harris said the project has expanded beyond its original budget, with the costs of painstaking historic restoration a major factor. “At this point, we need to raise some additional funds to renovate, restore and return the theater to its original grandeur—and beyond,” he said.
Following the theater’s heyday—first as an early 20th-century burlesque hall and later a movie theater—the venue slowly ran down. It became a discount movie house in disrepair and then was shuttered for the better part of the past decade, Harris said, but once the lights come up again, it will be managed with a new purpose and impact.
“Everyone is looking forward to reminiscing about their time growing up with the theater and imagining the new experiences they will have when we’re open. The community is really excited to get involved and be part of the new Sacred Heart Community Theater,” Harris said.
To help restore the Fairfield Community Theater to its original stature, visit https://weareshu.sacredheart.edu/project/19140.
About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 385 Colleges–2020 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 252 Business Schools–2019 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater. www.sacredheart.edu