Update on the New Theatre Knoxville Downtown Home

Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

It’s been just over three months since the announcement that Theatre Knoxville Downtown would move from their long-term location at 319 North Gay Street to 800 South Central on the other end of downtown. It’s been a busy three months, with ongoing productions, including their just-concluded production of On Golden Pond. 

They’ve put further productions on hold to focus on construction of their new theater and will open it with a production of One Slight Hitch beginning April 5. The new capacity will be about 100, roughly twice the seating currently available. And the new HVAC systems being installed will make the theater-going experience much more comfortable than in the past.

Night Rendering of Outside of Building, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville

New Emergency Exit, Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

Work is well underway to convert the 1950s church into a twenty-first century theater, but a great amount of work was required. From the outside a small amount of facade work is visible, but most noticeably, a new handicapped-accessible sidewalk has been poured leading from the public sidewalk to the front door. Also visible, is the (under construction) new emergency exit required by current codes.

Inside, the transformation is moving ahead quickly, with metal studs up for walls in the front which will form three restrooms and a ticket table. While the entrance will be smaller than the previous entrance, the three bathrooms accessible to the rear of the auditorium offers a massive improvement to the previous theater. In the past audience members had to go to the front, beside the stage to get to a restroom and that restroom was shared with the cast and crew.

Auditorium View from Stage, Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

Auditorium View from Stage, Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

The increased space has allowed for a much larger stage which will transform the possibilities for sets and staging. The sub-flooring for the extended surface has been completed and wiring for lights and sound was underway when I visited. A door to one side of the stage will lead to the basement, allowing actors to enter and exit out of sight of the audience.

View Toward Stage, Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

The church pews will be retained for use as seating and President of the Board of Directors, Bonny Pendleton was considering fabric to cover the new cushions to be installed on them. The room, at a capacity of 100, and with an expanded stage promises to deliver the kind of intimate experience community theater audiences have come to expect.

New Restrooms, Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

Basement, Future Home of Theatre Knoxville Downtown, 800 South Central Street, Knoxville, January 2019

The theater has two levels, with the 2500 square foot auditorium covering a basement of the same size. The downstairs is almost as important to the group as the public space. For the first time they should have adequate space and quality space for costumes, props, staging, dressing rooms, a crew and cast restroom. Bonny pointed out there is even room for rehearsal in the large, open center of the basement. On whole, it represents a spectacular improvement.

Follow their progress and get your tickets to the first production at the new location when they go on sale. You’ll find progress updated on their Facebook page and information (including tickets once they are available) on their website. Consider supporting community theater. It’s an important component to a city’s art scene.

Comments

  1. Opening night will be fun and a not to be missed event.

  2. Daniel Morse says

    What wasn’t mentioned in the article, what was all the love that has gone in to this wonderful renovation. Bonny Pendleton and many others have spent countless hours to provide Knoxville with a much needed larger Theater Knoxville. Kudos to all. I will be there opening night! And, I live in South Carolina.

  3. Rai Kaur Khalsa says

    What’s the parking situation near the new location?

    • There is a small lot adjacent to the building, but other than that there is lots and lots of street parking. There are several empty parking lots across the street from the building which we may be able to work out a parking arrangement with, but I don’t believe we have yet.

  4. Volunteers are welcome. If you go to Theatreknoxville.com there USA link to register to receive notice when we have a work day. Thanks. We’d love to have you.

  5. Gail Mitchell says

    So excited for this new venue to open. We loved the charm of the old theater and are excited for the new one to open. I do have a question. As the pews are staying as seating does that mean the stage will be elevated so as to not have the audience looking at the heads in front of them. Or will the pews be placed on risers so as to elevate them as in theater seating. Just curious and would love to help volunteer. Thanks

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      The stage was not elevated and I don’t know of any plan to place the pews on risers, though I could have missed that.

    • The stage is elevated so the audience will be looking up at the actors, not at the heads of the people in front of them. Plans for risers will have to wait until more money is raised. The sight lines will be similar to those of most churches.

  6. darrell cox says

    please can anyone give me any updates on the T on hill ave. that was supposed to have started by now, or on the space next to mast general on gay st. that tim hill was supposed to have built condos on which also was supposed to have started by now.

  7. What a great place to put a theater! Looking forward to opening night!

  8. Windie Wilson says

    Thanks for your ongoing support of Theatre Knoxville Downtown and for sharing our story! We’re very excited about the move.

  9. So exciting. Thanks for always being so supportive!

  10. The new space is at South Central. Two blocks east of the Bijou. Thanks for the great article.

  11. Jenny Boyd says

    What a beautiful space for the theatre! Can’t wait for opening night!

  12. So pleased Theater Knoxville Downtown is moving into this fresh new venue!

    Congratulations to all who have labored so long to make this a reality.

  13. Alan– All but one photo caption and the opening paragraph give the address as 800 NORTH Central Street; the second photo gives the address as 800 SOUTH Central Street. Perhaps you’d like to fix this.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Yep. Sorry. Brain must not have been engaged properly when I did that. All corrected, now. Thank you.

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