Sharpsville Theater Buys Building, Eyes Completion of $250,000 Renovation

SHARON, PA – Area Community Theater of Sharpsville has finalized the purchase of the former Sacred Heart Church and is about halfway finished on its renovation.

The theater closed on the $250,000 purchase from former owner Jim Landino last month. It had been renting the building at the corner of South Irvine and State streets in downtown Sharon for at least six months as it worked on converting the desanctified church into a 285-seat theater with a cabaret room in the basement.

The theater group has also raised $50,000 toward the $250,000 cost of the renovation. It hopes to secure the final $200,000 in the next few months and finish the work by the end of the year, said board member Anita Perman, with funds from foundations and individual donors. The goal is to present the first theatrical production in the facility in the spring of 2022, Perman said.

The gutted church is currently a construction zone. An elevated 40-foot by 20-foot stage has been built over the area that once was the altar and a proscenium arch has been framed in overhead.

Stage curtains that Area Community Theater of Sharpsville bought for its former venue at the Sharpsville Opera House will perfectly fit the new altar, said board president Susan Piccirilli.

Electrical work is now being completed, after which drywall will be installed and painted.

Several rooms behind the former altar, which will be used as stage wings and dressing rooms, will be cleaned and prepared for their new use.

The church pews, made of finished hardwood and bearing ornate carvings, have been repurposed as barriers at the front stage wall and along the side of a wheelchair ramp.

The former church hall in the basement has been transformed into a cabaret room, dubbed 40 Below – a play off the building’s address of 40 S. Irvine St. The room can seat about 150 at dinner tables for four. A stage area, with lighting and sound equipment, has been set up in one corner of the room, which has a large stone fireplace, a kitchen area, and ornate woodwork along its walls and ceiling.

Acts has been hosting musical and comedy shows in the cabaret since June. “We’ve already had about 2,000 guests come through,” Perman said.

The schedule for 40 Below includes Irish band County Mayo, Sept. 17; WaterFire performances, Sept. 18; Pipe Dreams concert, Se[pt. 25; Blue Fish Jam, Oct. 8; “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” Oct, 9; Dinner Theatre Rejects comedy troupe, Oct. 15; open mic night, Oct. 16; and the dinner-theater production  “A Murder Is Announced,” Oct. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31. 

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Pictured at top: Susan Piccirilli, president of the Area Community Theater of Sharpsville board of directors, is flanked by board members Tom Roberts and Anita Perman.

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