The MetroStage theater company has been a staple in Alexandria since it was founded in 1984. Last year, the company closed its doors after 18 years on North Royal Street and is now eagerly waiting for its new theater to open at Venue, a new development in the arts and cultural district in Old Town Alexandria.
The theater is moving around the corner to North Fairfax Street and will be located under the newly built condos, where the Crown Plaza Hotel used to stand.
Venue will also include two major home developments, The Residences and The Towns. The Residences will include upscale condos, that range from 550 to 2,300 square feet, with direct access to the Mount Vernon Trail. Next door, The Towns features luxurious, four-bedroom townhouses with in-home elevators and private rooftop terraces.
Back in 2017, just two years before the company produced its final show, Carolyn Griffin, the producing artistic director of MetroStage, got the news that the property had been purchased and condos were being built in place of the theater and that developers would also be building a new venue for MetroStage.
“Interestingly it was the same developer who gave us our first rent-free site on Duke Street back in the ’80s. We had truly gone full circle,” says Griffin.
The new venue is scheduled to be completed within the next two years, but with the coronavirus pandemic halting projects across the region, Griffin isn’t sure how it could affect construction.
“They are continuing to work on it because it is still in the open-air stage,” she says. “I don’t know what happens after the walls go up if the pandemic still has us isolating and quarantined.”
The new 7,000-square-foot theater will seat up to 120 people for the company’s one-of-a-kind plays, musicals and cabarets.
“This new location is centrally located, so [it] has the potential to be the central feature in Old Town North, considerably more visible,” says Griffin.
Even though the new theater will be a little more upscale than previous locations, audience members can still expect to feel the same intimate performances at the North Fairfax Street venue.
The city has also decided to structure the new arts and cultural district around the development.
Griffin explains, “A few years ago, a Small Area Plan for Old Town North was developed by a task force and approved unanimously by Alexandria’s City Council. It emphasized a commitment to establish an Arts and Cultural District in Old Town North and named MetroStage as an Arts Anchor.”
The arts and cultural district is set to include MetroStage, the already-established Art League and plans for a music conservatory, with the hope to include even more art organizations in the growing area.
Although she will miss the memories of the previous productions at the old location, Griffin explained she is looking forward to “simply having a proper performing space so we can once again produce seasons of plays and musicals, cabarets and readings with proper design and lighting and amenities for both actors and our audience.”
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