A year after the gala re-opening of the Greenwich Odeum and six months after it again closed for a time, the Main Street theater is rebooting once more, with board members planning this time to provide a more secure future.
Kevin Muoio, who replaces Bruce Rollins as the Odeum’s board president, said they plan to hold 40 events at the Odeum in 2014, both from theater rentals and its own shows. That would be nearly four times the number of events held at the Odeum in 2013.
The re-opening of the Odeum in January 2013 came after three years of fundraising, prompted by the town’s decision to put the theater back on the property tax rolls in 2009. Established as a nonprofit theater in 1994, the Odeum had been exempt from taxes, but it closed in 2007, unable to afford costly fire protection upgrades put into law after The Station nightclub fire.
Loosening of the fire code and a $142,000 grant from the Champlin Foundations in 2012 gave the Odeum the opportunity to reopen, but 2013 proved challenging and tumultuous, with some costly shows and the departure of longtime board president Frank Prosnitz, as well as a continued dispute with Steven Erinakes, who says he was never paid for the theater, long owned by the Erinakes family.
Muoio said he knows there’s been some frustration with the Odeum but he promises the board is on the right track now.
In a recent Odeum blog post, he wrote, “So when you look at the history of the Odeum and our ‘we’re open / we’re not open’ track record over the last decade, I know that we have tried the patience of many patrons, sponsors, and members. Thank you for sticking with us. I say this with the upmost conviction – in 2014, you will see a return of stability at the Greenwich Odeum.”
He acknowledged the theater’s “lively” acoustics are less than ideal for certain shows, including the movies that ran in November and early December. The sound, he said, was awful. For live acts, the acoustics are better, but improving them is a priority for the board this year, he said.
So far, the board has talked to two acoustic engineers about their ideas to improve the sound; a third engineer’s findings will be reviewed this month.
“We need to have this intelligently addressed,” Muoio said. “In 2014, we have three tenets: action, accountability and acoustics.”
Muoio, who works in sales and has run his own business, wants to bring a spirit of entrepreneurship to the Odeum. “I believe the Odeum is just like every other business on Main Street.”
The board is working on a business plan and setting goals, he said, including that 40-performance goal.
“Twelve rentals are already slated,” said Muoio. “We want people to know you can rent the Odeum.”
In terms of finances, Muoio said, things are improving. The rentals will help. The dispute with Erinakes, who established the nonprofit, remains unresolved.
“We are in ongoing conversations with Steve,” said Muoio.
He stressed the Odeum is an all-volunteer operation. “When we say … ‘100% Volunteer Run’ we’re not kidding – every performance, every ticket sold, every everything comes from the hard work of a volunteer,” he writes in his blog.
In addition to Muoio, the Odeum board is Doug Truesdell (vice president), Richard DiGennaro (treasurer), Susan Oberbeck (secretary), Judy Assad, Darren Hill, Steve Lombardi, Michael Norde, Jane Parillo, Bruce Rollins, Jody Sceery, and Dan Speca.
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