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Regional Theater of the Week: The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in Rhode Island

By: Veronica Bruscini

BroadwayWorld.com, the largest theatre site on the Internet, is excited to announce a new feature to its comprehensive regional coverage - the Featured Regional Theater of the Week! Each week, BWW will introduce its readers to a regional theater located in one of our (over 130!) coverage cities. By exploring these different venues, their history and showcasing the production seasons, BWW continues its commitment to expand our presence in communities and cities across the United States.

This Week's Featured Regional Theater: The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s celebrated Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre will soon mark the tenth anniversary of its move to the Pawtucket National Guard Armory, a building on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Armory’s main structure – a stunning Romanesque-revival brick castle complete with green copper turrets – was constructed in 1894-95 by William Walker and Sons, and the brick Annex that houses The Gamm’s performance space was completed shortly after World War II.  

The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre (originally known as Alias Stage) was founded in 1984 by seven graduates of the Trinity Repertory Conservatory.  During the first five years, these artists collaborated in a vacant mill building in the Olneyville section of Providence.  The company’s work gained such momentum that, when a fire destroyed their original performance space, Alias Stage and its supporters quickly secured a new home in another area mill building.  

The group experienced some growing pains in 1993.  Many of the founding members bowed out of Alias Stage to pursue other projects, the company moved to a new location in downtown Providence’s Jewelry District and, after nearly a decade of working as a cooperative artistic community, Alias transitioned into a more structured organization, complete with a formal board of directors.  In spite of these rapid changes, the company’s reputation for excellence never waned and support for the theater remained strong and steady.

Another five years passed, and the Feinstein Family Trust approached Alias Stage with a generous naming gift to honor the memory of the late actress/arts supporter, Sandra Feinstein.  Shortly thereafter, the directors of the newly re-christened Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre realized that they were quickly outgrowing their downtown performance space, and they began the search for a more permanent home.

The Gamm’s investigation led to the abandoned Pawtucket National Guard Armory, a building the company envisioned not only as a site for The Gamm’s productions, but also as a regional center for the arts and arts education.  The non-profit Pawtucket Armory Association (PAA) was formed in 2000 to pursue the project, and in December of 2002, the PAA purchased the Armory from the City of Pawtucket.  After many months of construction, The Gamm opened the doors of the Armory’s Annex with a production of A Child’s Christmas in Wales in November 2003.  

Under the guidance of Artistic Director Tony Estrella, Executive Director Yvonne Seggerman and Board President David Wax, the company’s quality, polished productions continue to garner the highest praise from critics and audiences alike.  In recent years, The Gamm presented Sarah Kane’s 4:48 Psychosis, the US premiere of Howard Brenton’s Paul, and the New England premiere of David Eldridge’s Festen.  In the 2012-13 season, The Gamm will host the Rhode Island premiere of John Logan’s Tony Award-winning Red, as well as the US premiere of Brenton’s Anne Boleyn.  

The Gamm is a proud member of New England Area Theatre (NEAT), a bargaining unit of the Actors’ Equity Association.  Visit www.gammtheatre.org for more information or to purchase tickets.

Know of a theater we should feature? Send your suggestion to christina@broadwayworld.com.


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