A new building behind the theater will allow for set storage and building and a new green room.

NORTH BEND — The south wall of the historic Liberty Theatre was cut open on Thursday, Oct. 1, in order to make a doorway and entrance to the future set workshop and green room areas from the stage.

Concrete footings have been poured and the base layer prepared for the entire slab foundation. Rebar in the concrete has been incorporated to provide integrity to the footings and slab.

The construction is Phase IV in a series of restoration phases. Phase VII, the final phase, will include a new marquee at the theater that will be patterned after a tall neon-like vertical "dogbone" sign that was at the theater in 1947, according to Mike Vaughn, LTOB restoration project manager. Architect for the project is Stuart Woods of McSwain & Woods. Phase VII is scheduled to be completed by 2024.

"The marquee design is beautiful," said Aymee Pedder, Little Theatre on the Bay president, who was on site for the concrete cutting with other LTOB members. LTOB is the theater group that owns the Liberty, where its shows are performed.

Phase IV is a 2,268-square-foot addition to the existing theater building on the southwest side. This new addition will house a workshop area to build sets and a green room, including restroom for the cast and crew. Currently a vacant lot, it was purchased in 1974 by Little Theatre on the Bay, and was paid off in 1994.

Key elements of Phase IV include a lobby-level accessible green room and set workshop area. Set pieces will be able to be constructed on site and moved directly to the stage without weather issues or stairs to navigate. The cast, crew and musicians can also move from the front doors to the backstage area and then right onto the stage all on one level with no stairs, a blessing for those with mobility issues.

"It's very needed space for our cramped quarters here," said Jeanne Woods, LTOB vice president and chair of the LTOB Restoration Committee.

Little Theatre on the Bay has contracted with local firm Scott Partney Construction to build the addition. Johnson Rock Products was subcontracted to cut the about 1-foot thick concrete wall, with George Vandervelden and Hayden Johnson of Johnson Rock on site to do that work on Oct. 1.

The project cost for Phase IV will be approximately $500,000 with completion scheduled for January, 2021.

"Stories like this remind people things are going on and good news is happening," said Woods.

"The theater community here is small but mighty," Pedder added. "We're just a big family."

Due to COVID-19, the Liberty Theatre has moved to providing online entertainment.

The current show, "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy," is a radio-style show, airing on Saturdays from Sept 19. to Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Tune in at www.thelibertytheatre.org. Those interested may also watch previous shows on the website, courtesy of the Liberty Theatre's YouTube channel. 

Restaurant O in Coos Bay has partnered with LTOB to provide a discounted dinner theater menu. This is available for pick-up to enjoy at home, or on site at Restaurant O's bar area. For more information, call Restaurant O at 541-808-9300.

How to help

To contribute financially to the restoration effort, LTOB has established the Liberty Walk of Fame at the outside front entryway. People are invited to honor themselves, family members or businesses with a tile inscription, available from $250 to $500 contingent on placement near the center Liberty Theatre logo. Other ways people can support this project include purchasing a name plaque on one of the new mezzanine windows, and for a substantial (tax-deductible) donation, name the brand-new set construction area or green room. Pick up a flyer at the Liberty, or contact Jeanne Woods at restoration@thelibertytheatre.org or 541-267-4006. Little Theatre on the Bay is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Also, The Oregon Cultural Trust is a program that distributes grants to the arts in Oregon. Anyone who gives to Little Theatre on the Bay, can get a second tax credit by giving the same amount to the Cultural Trust by Dec. 31, and claim the amount donated to the Cultural Trust. Learn more at www.Culturaltrust.org.

Background

The Little Theatre on the Bay is in the process of undertaking a multi-year/multi-phase capital campaign to enhance and expand North Bend’s historic Liberty Theatre. This 95-year-old treasure serves as the premier community theater and performing arts venue in the North Bend/Coos Bay area.

LTOB is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to cultivate the arts in Coos County.” The roots of the LTOB were formed in 1947 when a group of actors joined together to produce live radio plays in the greater North Bend/Coos Bay area. The popularity of these programs led this grassroots group to coalesce into a formal organization one year later. The next step in their organizational evolution took place in 1951 when the LTOB received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt recognition from the IRS.

LTOB enjoys the distinction of being the second longest continuously operating theatrical arts group in the state. Over the past 70 years the LTOB has enjoyed numerous sold out shows, entertained countless audience members, and nurtured the talents of actors, directors, and technicians all ages. Operating as an all-volunteer organization, the LTOB has been able to sustain operations, purchase the Liberty Theatre, and enhance and expand this downtown landmark.

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