FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University has reaffirmed that the renovation of the landmark, century-old community theater is continuing apace to meet the original goal of opening this fall, despite current challenges of the coronavirus crisis. And, in the meantime, SHU is whetting theater-lovers’ appetites with a steady stream of free online content.
The theater’s restoration includes installation of a new marquee that will replicate the iconic style of the original, beloved fixture in the heart of downtown Fairfield.
“While the implications of the pandemic have challenged everyone, we’re even more committed to fulfill our promise to bring great film, performing arts and educational events back to the town square,” says Bill Harris, director of the new SHU Community Theater. “In fact, we’re advancing our community outreach and engagement efforts even before we officially open the doors, with the launch of a new SHU Community Virtual Theater online, with free, exclusive SHU programming all summer.” (https://shucommunitytheater.org/)
With a wide collection of independent films, educational content and special live events that will be part of the regular theater schedule, the new SHU Virtual Theater will serve as an ongoing digital streaming service to promote events and engage audiences everywhere.
“We have some great movies of all kinds that you can’t see anywhere else. Many come from independent filmmakers and studios, including those from the new Fairfield Film Festival and other cinema programs from SHU’s film masters and media communications departments. And, of course, we will offer classic and new films. There will be theater arts performances, live music, comedy, animation, children’s activities and community events. We even have a virtual magic act and fireworks for the Fourth of July,” says Harris. “We are excited to give everyone a sneak peek over the next few months, and we hope people will get even more involved as we’re completing construction and getting ready to unveil and light up the new marquee and open our doors again.”
Shuttered for nearly 10 years, the theater was purchased by Kleban Properties, a real estate development company headquartered in Fairfield, which is overseeing restoration of the historic venue on the Post Road. Sacred Heart has leased the theater and will operate it as an independent, nonprofit business. The original theater first opened in the 1920s, in the aftermath of the last great global pandemic, and many in the community hope the venue’s rebirth at this time will mark downtown Fairfield’s broad reopening.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with Sacred Heart to save and restore this incredible historic centerpiece to our town, especially at this time” says Al Kleban, chairman of Kleban Properties. “I, like many residents, can’t wait until we’re safely past these current health-care concerns, so we can all go out for a night on the town, do a little shopping, have bite to eat and take in a great movie or live show at the new SHU Community Theater.”
A full list of new events and programs available to stream online will be updated weekly, and visitors can sign up for more updates and membership information, which also can be found on the SHU Community Theater Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SHUCommunityTheater/
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 nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; 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