Karen Paisley, artistic director of the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, told the opening-night audience of “The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” in her pre-show remarks that the nonprofit theater had closed on the purchase of the historic Warwick Theatre.
The venue was built in 1912 as a movie theater and is on the east side of Main Street between 39th Street and Westport Road.
Paisley told the audience that much interior work was needed to ready the venue as a functioning theater and it isn’t clear when the MET would begin staging performances there. She said renovations would begin soon.
The move will place the MET about a block from the Unicorn Theatre, in effect creating a mini-theater district on Main. The MET was founded in 2007 and for several years operated in a former warehouse near 18th and Walnut streets before moving to its present location at 3614 Main St.
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An article in the “Thoreau” program detailed the Warwick’s brief history.
“It seated 1,022 on two floors. One of the noted aspects in its decor was the rich red velvet draperies that adorned the stage and the matching seating material,” the article said. “The Warwick closed in 1953. Since then, the original decor has been lost, the raked seating removed, the floor leveled and this former icon to the arts took on a restructured life as a retail furniture store.”
The plan is “to restore this venue to its creative purpose and make this distinctive building a vital part of the KC artistic landscape for years to come. While we won’t seat 1,000 we will be able to double our audience size and still maintain the style of theater that we have come known for — powerful, passionate and personal.”
“The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail” runs through Dec. 6 at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre, 3614 Main St. Call 816-569-3226 or go to www.metkc.org.