Curtain to rise on renovation of Colonial Performing Arts Center

Construction nearly complete on main theater as it welcomes back public for performances.

With the historic expansion and renovation project in its final stages, the Colonial Performing Arts Center has announced a series of live performances in the main theater beginning April 1 - in addition to an ongoing schedule of shows at the Center's new intimate venue, Showroom.

The Wailin' Jennys, a Juno Award-winning folk and bluegrass trio from Canada, will kick off The Colonial Theatre's schedule with a performance on Friday, April 1.

Prince tribute band Purple Xperience will play Saturday, April 16. Grammy Award–winning rocker Melissa Etheridge will be on stage Tuesday, April 19.

New England comedian Bob Marley performs two shows on Saturday, May 14, and rounding out the main theater's spring schedule will be Evil Woman, an ELO tribute band, on Saturday, May 21.

The spring lineup for Showroom, the Colonial Performing Arts Center's new second stage, includes R-rated hypnotist Frank Santos on Saturday evening, April 16 - with a family-friendly show earlier that afternoon.

“That's just the beginning for our beautifully renovated main theater,” Alec Doyle, executive director of the Colonial Performing Arts Center, said in a news release. “With both The Colonial Theatre and Showroom in full operation, we anticipate providing a significant boost to the post-Covid economy and creative energy of the greater Monadnock Region.”

Comedian and commentator Jimmy Tingle will be at Showroom on Saturday, April 30. Blues artist Matt Anderson plays Thursday, May 5, followed by Celtic and bluegrass music by We Banjo 3 on Friday, May 6.

Comedian Matt Braunger will be on stage Saturday, May 14. Wrapping up Showroom's spring schedule is Latin artist Alex Cuba on Friday, May 27.

Meanwhile, work is ongoing to program summer and fall shows and to plan a reopening celebration in September. “We are eager to host a post-Covid grand opening and relaunch with a variety of events for all ages,” said Doyle. “The organization has a lot to be proud of in the completion of this extraordinary project.”

A two-year project

A little over two years ago, The Colonial announced plans to transform the 98-year-old live performance and film venue into what news releases referred to as “the world-class Colonial Performing Arts Center,” offering expanded opportunities and ADA accessibility for performers, audiences, and students.

The organization then took an important step toward its long-term vision by acquiring and renovating a second building, located directly behind the main theater, which now houses Showroom. This smaller, multipurpose venue is tailored for emerging artists, local performers and educational programming.

With Showroom in place, The Colonial turned to an extensive renovation and expansion of its main theater. The main theater now features a spacious ticket lobby, a patron lounge, and a dedicated concessions area, as well as improvements to restrooms and ADA accessibility throughout. The renovation also increased energy efficiency with all-new, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning primary systems, as well as new exterior windows and doors.

Importantly, the renovation also included crucial enhancements to the stage and backstage area: a larger stage, new rigging and staging technologies, a new artist green room, and contemporary dressing rooms - all of which will help attract world-class performances.

“Our programming had historically been defined by the physical limitations of a theater, which was designed for vaudeville productions and film,” said Doyle. “This project brings the Colonial Performing Arts Center into the 21st century, enabling us to host Broadway touring shows, large music acts, dance companies, and events that require circus-type aerial rigging.”

Doyle said the remaining details include a new state-of-the-art digital display within the historic marquee for the main theater and new carpet in the balcony.

Abigail Walsh, former board chair, said the project is expected to increase The Colonial's total economic impact by more than 40 percent, to $4.5 million per year.

“The Colonial is a proven success story in advancing the arts and economic prosperity of our region,” she said. “Now that the vision is nearly completed, our enhanced performing arts center will attract outstanding artists, exceed patrons' expectations, and deliver even more diverse arts programming for current and new audiences.”

According to Doyle, the main theater is reopening while the project is nearing completion. “There are still a few finishing touches to be made,” he said. “But ... we are ready for the whole community to come enjoy live shows again.”

More information and tickets for shows at both venues can be found online at or at the newly reopened Colonial Theatre box office between noon and 6 p.m. weekdays.

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