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1985 - Tammy Crismon

Thursday, May 8, 2008   (0 Comments)
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1985 OC alumna, Tammy Crismon, was featured in the following article from the Ohio based, Vindicator newspaper on May 7, 2008:

A theater revival in Columbiana

By Guy D’Astolfo

An open house at the facility will be Thursday.

COLUMBIANA — Tammy Crismon has two windows in her second-story office.

One looks out on Columbiana’s town center. The other, behind her desk, looks into the auditorium of the soon-to-open and newly renovated Main Street Theater.

It’s a perfect vantage point for Crismon, the theater’s manager. Poised between the real world and her magical sanctuary, she’s kept constantly aware of the venue’s place in its community, and her role in running it.

Crismon, the former director of Salem Community Theatre, took the Main Street Theater job in March. After a year that saw the building thoroughly overhauled inside and out, Main Street opens Thursday with an open house.

At a time when spending on entertainment is down across the board — blame the price of gasoline, the rise of home entertainment systems and the generally lousy economy — the resurrection of the Main Street Theater is highly unusual.

It began in February 2007, when Don Arthurs and his wife, Dawn, bought it.

Don is a co-founder of Turning Technologies, the high-tech startup company in Youngstown that makes audience response systems. He grew up in Columbiana and has fond memories of the theater, which opened in 1952 as the Manos and was known as Columbiana Cinema when it closed Feb. 4, 2007. Arthurs has said his goal is to bring life and entertainment to his hometown.

The Arthurs spent upward of $1 million to renovate the building. They replaced the roof and exterior, adding a lighted marquee. The Encore Caf — a coffee house that serves pastries, soups and sandwiches and has Wi-Fi capability — opened in January. The caf opens directly into the theater lobby, a large room with an unusual “blue-sky” ceiling that is used as a performance space for singers and small ensembles.

Laura Shirey manages Encore, which is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (closed Sundays).

Every inch of the theater has been given a face-lift so complete that it’s virtually impossible to find any remnant of its past.

Deep red carpeting lines the floors with the walls, concession area and doors done in chrome, glass and black. The restrooms have also been completely redone.

Most striking is the auditorium.

A 1,000-square-foot wooden stage with a semi-circular front has been constructed, complete with carved flourishes. The stage protrudes 20 feet into the seating area. A 10,000-watt sound system with surround sound has been installed, as have ceiling-mounted stage lights. New dressing rooms are nestled behind the stage, which includes a red curtain and, of course, a retractable movie screen.

Each of the 440 seats (the original capacity was 631) has a cup-holder and is angled to face center-stage. Twinkling low intensity lights line the aisles, inset into the floor. The walls are covered with drapery, and include mask statuary at intervals, perched on white columns. A wheelchair area is at the rear of the auditorium.

A soundproof cry room/private viewing room is on the second floor. It is next to the projection booth, which has both the original reel projector — a monstrous device that is at least 60 years old — and an ultramodern digital projector.

Crismon, a Hanoverton resident and native of Ashtabula County, has been working long and frenzied hours as opening night draws near.

“The possibilities are just endless, and I’m excited about that, but there is a lot of stress in getting it started up,” she said.

In addition to her work at Main Street, Crismon is still putting in time at Salem Community Theatre as a part-time consultant as that venue reshapes its operational structure.

At SCT, Crismon was the sole paid employee; all others were volunteers. At Main Street, she has the luxury of a full- and part-time staff of 16.

She was surprised when Don Arthurs called her in March to offer her the Main Street Theater post.

“We’ve known the Arthurs for years from church, and his family attended a lot of shows at Salem,” she said. “Don was looking for someone with a live theater background.”

Crismon fell into theater management when her daughter began acting at SCT and she began volunteering. But she is well qualified for it.

The graduate of Oklahoma Christian University had a career in the financial field, handling insurance, investments and mortgages for firms in Akron and Canfield. Her husband teaches in Lisbon schools.

“I approached the theater as a business,” she said. “But I learned the artistic side of it at Salem.” Unlike SCT, the Main Street Theater is a for-profit business.

Crismon has even had several stage roles at SCT, most recently as Claire in the Neil Simon comedy “Rumors” last season.

“I went from a number cruncher to the people biz,” she said. “I was carrying a laptop and a pager, but I was looking for something closer to home. Then the offer from Salem came and the time was right.”

Crismon said Main Street fits in well in downtown Columbiana, a walkable old-fashioned town with myriad antique shops and specialty stores. The city has built a minipark in front of the theater, which sits on one corner of the central traffic circle.

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