Interested in buying/building a new theatre for live arts

posted by tdeluca on November 1, 2005 at 5:08 am

Hi all,
I am new to this site and just found it. I am from Newburyport in Massachusetts and am looking for a theatre or information on building a new theater minimum 500 seats for live arts. Ideally, I would like to renovate an old theatre, but I can’t find one in my area.

I am interested in any information that you may have to help me on my quest. Newburyport is a historic town on the seacoast of Massachusetts. There is a tiny not for profit theatre in town, but I am interested in regional equity.

I appreaciate anyone’s help. Looking in about a 20 mile radius from Newburyport.

Comments (11)

stevepatrick on November 3, 2005 at 4:15 am


I read your posting and I wish you luck. My wife is originally from N-port and we currently reside in southern Maine. I too had been looking for something similar to what you want up here but have struck out. If you need help with your project once you’ve located a building please contact me. I’d love to get involved.


tdeluca on November 3, 2005 at 8:26 am

Thanks Steve, I will.

sandy1329 on November 6, 2005 at 12:30 pm

Hi Todd,
I am a commercial Realtor in North Andover, MA andI have a 450 seat theater for sale in southern New Hampshire. If you are interested please call me on Monday morning after 9 AM @ 978-857-7662, or you can email me at


stevepatrick on November 11, 2005 at 6:38 am


Any luck? I’ve written a couple tiomes to Sandy but I haven’t gotten any more info. Do you at least know the town?


sandy1329 on November 11, 2005 at 9:03 am

Hi Steve,

I am now in control of the theater, so I can give you more info. I will be puting the Theater on to my website, by Tuesday. I am showing the property on Saturday to Todd. You can reach me by phone @ 978-857-7662 to set up a showing for early next week.

focus on November 18, 2005 at 8:51 am


Have you done any market research of the area at all. You should do a area market analysis of the county,regional and state patron market base. This will help you to do budget projections of potential patron counts and help with financial projections.

As for a small auditorium of 450 seats or less, you will be limited on the type of talent you can book at your venue. It would be best to acquire or build a venue of 1000 seats or more. This would allow you much more flexibility on the type of entertainment you could offer. Example, you could book Kelly Clarkson or Larry the cable guy, for two shows and sell them out, giving you more bang for your buck. With just a 450 seat theater, you would be hard press to book then at all. Just something to think about.

If you have not already, you should have a business plan prepared. A good sound plan can be used as a template to help guide you, through all of your different business phases you will need to address. In addition, you will need a business plan with financials, to present to a lender or investment group to sell your idea to.

Sometimes organizations limit themselves to just a small market area, you should think about serving a 100 mile radius of your theater location. Market research has shown that patrons will travel up to that distance to see quality entertainment.

Finally, if you locate a historical theater instead of building one, there are feasibility studies, community fundraisers and grants that you should consider. However getting access to some of theses federal, state and local funding depends on how you are structured? Will you be a non for profit or for profit ententes.

If you have any additional questions, you may contact me at and I would be happy to assist you further.

stevepatrick on November 18, 2005 at 9:08 am

Thank you for the useful comments. I will be in touch shortly.

romeoisojuliet on November 29, 2005 at 7:36 pm

Dear Todd and Steve,

Hi there.

My name is Paul Riopelle. Please forgive this rather bold email, but I found your recent correspondence on the “Cinema Treasures” website as gentlemen who were looking to purchase/renovate a theatre in the Massachusetts/New Hampshire area, and I thought I would write to inquire about your goals for such a theatre, to see if we could possibly help one another.

I am a New York-trained, Equity actor who has worked Off-Broadway, performed in International tours, served on a Hollywood film as Dustin Hoffman’s Personal Stand-In, and currently live in Chicago, having made my living for the past 15 years as a professional actor and occasional director (I am currently 36 years old). Having succeeded in these different areas, my personal/professional goals are beginning to shift, and I am looking to change my life by settling in a place I really love, and co-owning/running a theatre, where I can direct and act in shows that I truly value and that are supported by a surrounding community. Having been on tour several times through the beautiful eastern seaboard, I concluded it would be the perfect place to launch my dream of founding my own Professional Equity Theatre Company, which would produce a full season of Musicals, American Classics, and Shakespeare, in a place that many consider the most cultured area in the nation.

Just beginning my quest for information on Theatres in the Massachusetts area, I came across your correspondence on the “Cinema Treasures” website, and just wondered whether you had similar goals and dreams to mine, and were looking for an experienced Artistic partner in the enterprise. Being an unmarried, self-sufficient artist-type, I would have little to bring to the endeavor in the way of financial capital. However, I have ENORMOUS experience with theatres—having headlined (as well as serving in administration and teaching capacities) at some of the largest ones in the U.S. (including New York’s National Shakespeare Company and the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the 4th largest Classical Theatre in the Country). I could bring a wealth of knowledge on how to run a theatre from an Artistic standpoint, from the casting of a company, to the direction of productions, even how to write proposals to get other backers and community groups interested in supporting us—and I would be VERY interested in relocating and committing to doing this at a New Theatre FROM THE GROUND UP—with passion, with insight, and with tireless energy. If this is at all similar to your own goals in looking to purchase a theatre, I would very much like to talk with you at further length about if and how we might collaborate on such a venture.

You may email me at my personal address () at any time, to ask as many questions as you would like of me, and if you find the answers satisfactory, I hope we can continue to discuss the possibilities. I realize this is a very bold and unorthodox email—and if your plans for the theatre are vastly different than what I am suggesting, I greatly apologize. It is just that I am trying to take my life in an exciting new direction, and I am not beyond any daring move to make that happen.

I eagerly look forward to hearing from you.

Paul Riopelle
Chicago Equity Actor

macknife on January 18, 2006 at 2:51 pm

I live in Rowley MA and would welcome a new theater in nearby Newburtport! The Newburyport Screening Room does a great job right now! Currently we all all waiting for a theater that is scheduled to open soon in nearby Ipswich MA in the old town hall.
Also, there is an interesting theater that is open sporatically in Rockport MA called the Little Arts is a gem, and might be available for purchase!!
For now I will continue to drive my family crazy with my 16mm sound Bell & Howell and eclectic collection of features and odd feature reels! Film RULES!!

jukingeo on May 4, 2006 at 8:05 am


STEVE—I have seen your posts floating around here at CT for a while now. Did you ever find what you were looking for in a theatre? I am asking because I too am looking for a place to showcase live acts. Really, I would'nt mind a place that does both movies and live acts…but I would prefer live acts as there is not much money to be made in movies. So did you find a theatre? It is funny too because I was also looking the MA area and the only thing I found was the Paris Theatre and from what I gather it is located in the seedy part of Worcester, MA. Not the idea places to set up operations. I saw in one post that you were interested in the State Theatre in Sandusky, Ohio. That is a big jump…MA to Ohio. This is where I first came across your posts and I too was going to persue interest in the State Theatre, but seeing nothing in terms of a for sale sign, I turned to the Erie County Chamber of Commerce. They said that the State theatre will reopen soon. So I doubt it will be put up for sale :(.


NativeForestHiller on March 21, 2008 at 1:27 am

Hi Todd (TDeluca), I am a preservationist who is seeking parties of interest that may “save the day” for an endangered early 20th century theater by Thomas Lamb in Queens, NY. It is available for lease and possibly for purchase. Please e-mail and I will share more information. Thanks!

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