BRENTWOOD -- For the past four years Brentwood Theater Company has brought musical theater to the community, entertaining residents with its Broadway Under the Stars productions held at a variety of theaters around Brentwood. From an outdoor theater at the Streets of Brentwood to this summer's production of "Fiddler on the Roof" at Liberty High School, the theater company has been moving across the city and has scrambled to find a location and a time slot to stage its productions.

Though pleased with the musical productions the company has put on, troupe President Jack Gaughan wants to be able to offer East County more and therefore is looking for a permanent home in downtown Brentwood for the local theater group, one where they will be able to host a variety of live performances as well as special events, community meetings and classes.

Brentwood Theater Company is ready to settle down and is willing to start on a small-scale in obtaining a permanent space. At present Gaughan is looking at the former site of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in downtown Brentwood, a small building with enough space for 100 seats and a small stage. "This would be what we call a single set where you don't have a lot of set changes and you only have a cast of five or six people," Gaughan said. "It would not serve for our major musicals and we'd still have to rent space for them."

If purchased, the space would need to be rebuilt with theater lighting and sound system. In its favor are good acoustics and that its location makes it accessible to the community.


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More importantly, the permanent theater would allow Brentwood Theater Company to stage productions year-round.

"This little theater is really to give us year-round exposure with other kinds of productions. It would be more for nonmusical shows, such as dramas, mysteries, comedies and small music reviews," Gaughan said.

"We would then have a permanent home and a regular box office with regular hours devoted entirely to the theater."

Calling it an intimate, affordable theater, Gaughan envisions having between six and eight shows a year with tickets selling for $10 to $20. When not in use for a production, the theater could be the site of lectures, demonstrations, meetings of local organizations and occasional fund raisers for other nonprofit organizations.

A permanent theater would not only expand cultural events for East County but would also provide a venue for the many that are interested in continuing their theater experiences, both on stage and behind the scenes, providing a continuation of the robust theater programs in local high schools.

"We had 55 people in the cast for 'Fiddler on the Roof,'" he said. "We've had between 40 and 50 people in every one of our shows and not all of them have been the same. I would say there are probably 350 people on my mailing list and this would give them more opportunities."

The cost of the building in question is $300,000, and Gaughan has started work with a group of community leaders to develop specifics of how the plan should proceed, including the purchase of the site and fundraising efforts.

Gaughan's plan is to first put together a group of large donors to buy the building, which he hopes to accomplish by Nov. 1. It can then be leased to Brentwood Theater Company. From that point, more fundraising efforts will proceed to retrofit the space in preparation for the first production.

Though the purchase of the former church will not solve the issue of where to stage the large-scale musical productions, the benefits are still great.

"This will be an opportunity, over a period of three or four years, to demonstrate that we are a successful theater company," Gaughan said. "Then we would be able to start a drive to build a real theater in far East County for larger productions, like Broadway musicals, symphonies or even light opera."

TO HELP
To donate toward the purchase of a permanent Brentwood Theater Company building, contact Jack Gaughan at 925-516-1741, 925-513-3863 or brentwoodtheater@sbcglobal.net.