Billie Holiday Theatre Slated for Major Renovation

By Paul DeBenedetto on March 28, 2014 9:13am 

 The current Billie Holiday Theatre, inside Restoration Plaza at 1368 Fulton St. The theater will undergo a major renovation later this year.
The current Billie Holiday Theatre, inside Restoration Plaza at 1368 Fulton St. The theater will undergo a major renovation later this year.
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DNAinfo/Paul DeBenedetto

BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — The Billie Holiday Theatre will get a multimillion-dollar facelift later this year, the first major renovation in the theater's 42-year history.

The renovation of the Bed-Stuy venue, named after the iconic jazz singer and serving primarily African- and Caribbean-American audiences, could cost as much as $2.5 million, according to the city's Department of Design and Construction.

Included in the project are new sound and video equipment, lighting, seating, rigging, carpet and drapes, most of which hasn't been replaced since the 1970s, Executive Director Marjorie Moon said.

"It's very important we get the new equipment," Moon said. "The sound equipment has been the same, the rigging has been the same. So we're very excited."

The Billie Holiday Theatre was founded in 1972 and was designed to bring the arts to the neighborhood's African- and Caribbean-American populations, said Moon who has run it for more than 30 years.

The theater, inside Restoration Plaza at 1368 Fulton St., boasts alumni including choreographer and "Grey's Anatomy" actress Debbie Allen, "Martin" and "Everybody Hates Chris" actress Tichina Arnold and legendary star Samuel Jackson — "before he used the 'L' in his name," said Moon.

"It's a springboard for young artists," she said. "They get to really develop their roles and develop their skills."

Over the last year the theater has tried to expand its audience, booking comedy shows along with their plays to try and draw a younger crowd.

Performances during the renovations, which could start as soon as October, will be held at another location. The theater is currently looking at Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights, Moon said.

The renovation will mark an exciting change in the theater's history, she said.

"It's going to be wonderful," she said. "We're going to be able to have a greater artistic capacity."

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