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Las Cruces attorney comes to rescue of community theater
Las Cruces Bulletin
Las Cruces attorney Jose Coronado has, quite literally, given Las Cruces Community Theatre (LCCT) a new lease on life.
Coronado completed the purchase of the building at 313 N. Main St. Downtown earlier this month from a group of families, including Dyne Buckley and Terry and Connie Moss, who live in Las Cruces. Built by the Buckley family as the State Theatre in December 1941, LCCT moved into the space from the Fountain Theatre in Mesilla in 1977.
Last week, LCCT signed a lease with Coronado that will keep it in the building for at least the next 30 years, with an option for 10 more years after that.
“Getting this lease in place is going to make worlds of difference,” said LCCT Board President Janet Beatty-Payne, who signed the new lease along with LCCT treasurer Tom Warren. “Jose is really our hero for stepping in to solve this,” she said. “His heart is really Downtown.”
“I’m not a hero,” Coronado said on May 26 in front of the theatre as he met with Beatty- Payne and a number of other board members. Coronado said he read in the newspaper a few months ago that the building might be sold to a church, forcing LCCT out.
“I was surprised. I love it Downtown. It was an opportunity for me to do something. It was really about keeping the theatre here because it’s your home,” he said.
“We needed a knight on a white horse,” LCCT Board Secretary Britney Stout told Coronado.
“We’re very excited,” said Vanessa Dabovich, board vice president for public relations.
“We’re all very excited to make improvements, to go forward with anticipation,” said Karen Warren, the board’s vice president for membership.
“I don’t know Mr. Coronado, but I think it safe to say that all of those who have made LCCT the remarkable entity it has been for over 50 years are deeply grateful to him,” said Tony- winning playwright Mark Medoff, whose first play, “The Wager,” was produced at the theatre. “LCCT survives to thrive,” Medoff said.
“LCCT is a community treasure Downtown and an important part of the cultural landscape,” said long-time Las Cruces actor-director Richard Rundell, whose first show at LCCT was “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” in 19972 – he played the governor. “The theatre and its many actors, directors, designers and stage crews over the decades have contributed immeasurably to the artistic quality of life in Las Cruces. We are grateful that it will be able to continue to flourish,” he said. Rundell has acted in 20 shows at LCCT and directed three (“Love Letters,” “Firebugs” and “Art”). He served as LCCT board president from 1992 to 1994 and later as play-reading chair and publicity chair. Rundell commissioned the LCCT comedy- tragedy logo by an NMSU grad student in graphic design.
“I think it was quite fortunate that Mr. Coronado was willing to purchase the building,” Las Cruces stage and film actor and director David Edwards said. “We as a nonprofit organization are probably better off not being in the building ownership business but rather in the making theater business. His willingness to give us a long-term lease really shows his generosity and civic mindedness. I, personally, am truly grateful,” he said. Edwards is a member of LCCT’s board and is a former board president.
Coronado purchased the theatre for $299,000. His lease with LCCT calls for the theatre group to pay monthly rent of $1,000, which will increase three percent each year.
Coronado also owns his office space just a couple of blocks south of LCCT on Main Street and other downtown properties.
Beatty-Payne said LCCT will continue its capital campaign to raise money for improvements to the theatre through August 2016. She said the approximately $40,000 raised by the campaign since September 2014 will be used for renovations, including the installation of refrigerated air (scheduled to take place in June 2016), the expansion of patron restrooms to make them ADA compliant and electrical upgrades to the theatre.
LCCT’s 53rd season concludes with “The Nerd,” written by Larry Shue and directed by Teddy Aspen-Sanchez, which opens June 10 and continues through June 26. LCCT’s 54th season opens with “The Homecoming” by Harold Pinter, which will be directed by New Mexico State University Theatre Arts Professor Michael Wise. It will open Aug. 12 and continue through 28.
For more information, visit www.lcctnm.org.
‘Getting this lease in place is going to make worlds of difference. Jose is really our hero for stepping in to solve this. His heart is really Downtown.’
JANET BEATTY-PAYNE LCCT board president