By Emily Williams
The Homewood Theatre recently announced it will have a permanent location at Brookwood Village, on Lakeshore Drive.
Since its founding in 2016, the theater has shared space with The Dance Foundation. But theater Executive Director Kyle Bass said the theater started to feel cramped. The group will be moving into its new location, across the corridor from Books-A-Million, and opening its doors later this summer for its 2019-2020 production season.
Homewood Theatre’s mission is to provide a first-class theater experience while fostering theater arts opportunities for local actors.
The foundation serves as rehearsal and performance space for numerous arts companies and organizations, so reserving time in the theater space was tricky, Bass aid.
“We’ve had to have portable sets be taken down every night for the tiny dancers,” Bass said. “We really couldn’t even get two weekends together. They are so popular that we couldn’t get the space. … Even nights of performances they would have an Indian dance class going on down the hall. They have a drum group that comes in some nights. … Some nights it would be tap dancing classes.”
In addition to a permanent space, the Brookwood Village location offers popular restaurants such as Brio Tuscan Grille and Cocina Superior, and there is plenty of covered parking.
“You can park your car in one spot and do the whole evening,” Bass said, which is important to many of the patrons he has spoken to.
The partnership is a win-win for both the theater and Brookwood Village, said Anne Stephens, specialty leasing and marketing director for Brookwood Village.
“I think bringing in the Homewood Theatre is a good opportunity because it highlights the fact that we are a neighborhood community center, not just a traditional shopping mall,” Stephens said.
The shopping center has been working on a long-term redevelopment plan to breathe some life back into its walls.
“Brookwood has been a piece of the community for over 40 years,” Stephens said. “So, a lot of the people who grew up in the surrounding areas remember coming here as children.”
Brookwood Village completed an interior renovation in 2016 and has been working toward transforming into a mixed-use destination for locals.
One big draw for the shopping center has been its outdoor social calendar.
The Macy’s parking lot is a popular spot to host community fundraisers for non-profit organizations such as the Exceptional Foundation’s Chili Cook-Off and the Community Grief Support’s Magic City Mac N’ Cheese Festival. In addition, the Brookwood Live weekly concert series hosted each fall on the center’s main road also draws a crowd.
“I think that (the theater) will bring back some of the people who haven’t been here in a while and will also bring in new people who haven’t ever been to Brookwood,” Stephens said.
Though Bass said he will miss the people and the central location in Homewood, moving to Brookwood Village also is a central location for mall patrons, who typically live in Homewood, Mountain Brook, Birmingham’s Southside and Vestavia Hills.
“We are right in the middle of all of that,” Bass said.
Over the next couple of months, the retail space the theater will be occupying across from Books-A-Million will be transformed, though Bass said the plan for the interior is undecided. Bass said that, as of yet, he hasn’t found another theater to compare that occupies space inside a shopping center.
“We have a show in here Aug. 22,” he said. “So, we have less than three months. I have a 62-day plan so that by the first of August we are ready to get in and acclimate.”
Homewood Theatre has six shows scheduled for the 2019-2020 season. The debut performance at Brookwood Village will be “Bill Bugg and Friends Part 2,” featuring popular show tunes in a piano-bar style setting.
Tickets prices are $20. Group packages and season tickets are available.
For more information, visit homewoodtheatre.com and shopbrookwoodvillage.com.