WILMINGTON — After pandemic restrictions caused the Murphy Theatre to cancel programs and lay-off staff in March 2020, work continued behind the scenes at the historic theatre to renovate and expand the theater’s concessions area.
Funded by a generous historic preservation grant from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, the construction project began just before a state mandate disallowing large gatherings forced the theatre to cancel live performances indefinitely.
The project was completed March 2021 and the Murphy Board of Trustees named the new concessions area Charlie’s Cast & Crew.
“Charlie” is for Charles Murphy, former owner of the Chicago Cubs, who built the Murphy Theatre for his hometown of Wilmington. A large portrait of Murphy wearing his iconic derby bowler hat is displayed in the new space along with a collection of vintage movie posters and photos curated by the theater’s historian, Jennifer Hollon.
The Murphy board and staff worked closely with an architect and contractors to ensure the new space mirrors the grand historic décor of the theatre built in 1918.
On Wednesday evening, the Murphy Theatre Board of Trustees hosted a reception for members, volunteers, sponsors, and community partners to celebrate the completion of the concessions area.
Following a ribbon-cutting by the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, Board President Jennifer Williams welcomed attendees and acknowledged board members, volunteers, and contractors for their contributions to the success of the project.
Cheryl Webb, Board Vice President, announced that two retiring board members, Cindy Camp and Jennifer Hollon, were given emeritus status by the Board of Trustees in honor of their many years of leadership and dedication to The Murphy. Webb presented each of them with flowers and red velvet throws embroidered with a gold Murphy logo.
To close the evening’s program, Jennifer Hollon read an excerpt from her book, “The Historic Murphy Theatre: The People, The Entertainment, & The Monument.”
The Murphy is now open and scheduling programs for the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.
Even with the exciting changes happening at the Murphy Theatre, there is one key piece of the theatre missing – and that is a new executive director.
The Board of Trustees is currently conducting a national search for an Executive Director. This is an important event in The Murphy’s strategic plan to see the theatre become a regional performing arts venue sought by artists and audiences of all genres.
With the departure of former Executive Director Maretta Alden, a group of Murphy board members and devoted community members have been conducting the search.
The committee has identified several highly qualified and experienced candidates and is now conducting Zoom interviews with each.
The Board of Trustees hopes to name a new director in toward the end of July with a start date no later than mid-August.
“We’re currently speaking with several highly qualified and experienced candidates and we’re hoping to bring a couple of them to Wilmington for in-person conversations,” said Board President Jennifer Williams said. “The Murphy Board and staff are all looking forward to getting this key position filled very soon.”