Northern Stage Announces Plans for New Theater Building

Northern Stage Announces Plans for New Theater Building

Northern Stage has recently embarked on The Campaign for Northern Stage, a $9 million plan to build a new theater on the site of the former Miller Auto Garage on Gates Street in White River Junction, VT.

Plans call for construction to begin in September 2014 and for the new theater to open in time for the company’s 19th season in the fall of 2015. Janet Miller Haines, Chair of the Board of Directors, stated, “The company has long envisioned a new theater venue for our audiences and artists to convene. I could not be more excited about helping to make this dream come alive.”

In September of 2013, Northern Stage began conversations with Bread Loaf Corporation and Theatre Projects Consultants to develop the designs for a new venue. The Campaign for Northern Stage officially began in February of 2014 with the Board of Directors’ vote to move forward with these architectural plans. At that time, they also selected Bread Loaf Corporation as the Design/Build firm and approved a motion to begin fundraising. Since then, 53% of the overall fundraising goal has been pledged, permits and planning approvals are in process with the Town of Hartford, and progress is being made to further the financing and construction of the project.

Managing Director Eric Bunge brings expertise and experience to The Campaign’s efforts. Mr. Bunge recently spearheaded a similar project for the Commonweal Theater Company in Lanesboro, Minnesota. “I have witnessed first-hand the transformational effects a project like this can have on an organization, its audience, and region. It is truly an exciting time to be in the Upper Valley and a part of Northern Stage.”

“The momentum around this project has been powerful,” stated Artistic Director Carol Dunne. “A new home will allow the company to enhance our artistry, enrich our programs, and become a new work incubator. Northern Stage will grow from a professional theater with regional impact to a regional theater with national impact. ”

Northern Stage’s presence in the Upper Valley is due to the support of the region’s businesses, organizations, and people, notably the Briggs family who own the company’s current venue. Janet Miller Haines stated, “Since our founding in 1997, we have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the Briggs family. The intimacy of the Briggs Opera House has become a hallmark of Northern Stage’s work. We have designed the new theater to honor this tradition.”

Cyn Barrette, Co-Chair of the Leadership Committee for The Campaign for Northern Stage stated, “A new home for Northern Stage will transform our patron’s experience and allow us all to appreciate the art in a completely new and exciting way.”

With 17,500 gross square footage, the new building will feature:

•              A bright and visible frontage to welcome patrons and bring new aesthetic vitality to White River Junction.

•              An intimate and modern 250-seat theater with unobstructed sight-lines and no seat farther than 38 feet from the stage.

•              Ground floor access with a drop-off area and an easily accessible box office.

•              A spacious lobby with welcome amenities, including concessions, coat rooms, art on the walls, and ample restroom facilities.

•              A thrust stage very much like our current stage at the Briggs Opera House.

•              A comfortable seating arrangement with wide seats and more than 3 feet between rows.

•              Modern facilities throughout the building including a hearing assist system, an elevator to the second-floor lobby, and accessible seating in both the first row and the last row.

•              A new rehearsal/classroom for actors and students to explore the craft of theater.

•              Increased ceiling heights to provide greater flexibility for dramatic use of lighting.

•              More backstage space and larger doors to allow designers full range of creativity and scope for imagination.

•              State-of-the-art acoustics and sound systems to ensure every word is heard.

Stuart Johnson, Chairman of The Campaign for Northern Stage Building Committee, summed up the purpose of this new theater: “With this project, we are matching a truly world-class theater company with a state-of-the-art facility in order to energize the cultural and economic vitality of our region.”

Northern Stage is actively seeking support for this project. For more information, please contact Director of Development Amanda Rafuse at or 802.291.9009 x117.

Photo by Bread Loaf Corporation

Photo by Bread Loaf Corporation


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