The Golden Triangle Theater has found a new home in a familiar location, the former First Baptist Church building in downtown Columbus.
The massive structure, built in 1908, had been on the market since 2005 before Vince Rapisarda bought it earlier this year. He was soon approached by the organization about the potential use of some of the space.
“(The Golden Triangle Theatre) approached me a while ago about what they were doing and the fact that there was no theater in Columbus, and they knew I had the sanctuary as well as all kinds of office and classroom spaces,” Rapisarda said. “I was pretty excited when they first approached me.”
The Golden Triangle Theatre, although a relatively new group, is a non-profit organization formed to support and develop the arts in Columbus. However, it was transient at first, which made it hard to really bite your teeth at first.
“The theater is really finishing its first year of existence, we formed in June of last year, and we were working, mainly, in a few places,” said Garrett Torbert, executive and artistic director of the organization. “We started at the Catholic Church of the Annunciation, in their center of activities, and then ended up, last spring, at the Columbus Arts Council, and we kind of created a little partnership with them.”
The theater offers many programs for adults and children in the community with the aim of promoting the arts and encouraging creativity, but the problems really arose when it began to grow rapidly.
“We had such a huge number of registrations in the spring compared to the fall when we had about 15, and in the spring we had about 57, so that was a huge increase,” Torbert said. “This summer we worked to decide on our next focus and how we wanted to continue to establish ourselves, and we thought the best way was to find a facility that would meet our needs as we want to grow and offer more. things.”
The organization has another inspiration for expansion, however, one that hits much closer to home.
“This summer we lost one of our instructors who really helped me get the program started,” said Torbert. “It really had a big impact on how we moved forward, and I think one of the things she would have wanted us to do was to keep going. So that’s what we’re doing.
The instructor was Tennille Komulainen, a teacher at Columbus Christian Academy who had a background in the performing arts, but didn’t have many outlets to explore those passions in the area, which led her to involved in organizing the theatre, Torbert said.
“She had acting degrees, and I think coming on board really reignited a fire that she once had,” Torbert said.
The theater plans to start later this month, and the once empty halls of the church will be filled with the sounds of children and adults discovering their passions.
“We’ll start occupying the space this fall and we’ll use it for our weekly classes that we do, and then also we start offering more teaching opportunities, like music lessons,” Torbert said.
The theater and Rapisarda share a common goal, making the building a central location for the arts in the region.
“With the Golden Triangle moving in there, I think it’s a start, and we want to grow on what they’re doing,” Rapisarda said. “We would like to expand this beyond the Golden Triangle Theater Group. I wish I had more of these type of groups in this building.
“We have 81,000 square feet to bring people to this area,” he added.
The shrine is a sight to behold. While the stained glass windows and balconies fit the theme of the theater perfectly, the stage does not.
Thus, the stage will change to adapt to the theatrical aesthetic of the rest of the sanctuary, while allowing for performances to be held there. It will simply be a question of building a flat scene in place of the existing one.
With Rapisarda spearheading this aspect of the project, the theater began preparations for its next season.
Last year, the group mounted four stage productions.
This season, it will once again offer a full program of entertainment.
It will host a holiday showcase on December 9, which will include a local girls’ choir and a string band. Then in February, he will stage a production of “Annie” followed by “Sound of Music” in May.
The theater also plans to expand its base.
“We’re looking to reach a broader base, growing more in West Point and Starkville, in terms of our student base, and we’re getting that, so we’re really excited about that.”
It currently hosts 11 instructors/volunteers, but is always looking for more people who are passionate about the arts.
“We’re always looking to add, our aim is to be as inclusive as possible,” said Lindsay Clemons, chairman of the group’s board. “Anyone interested in the performing arts and theater arts, anyone who wants to help in any way, we welcome contributions of time, talent and of course financial contributions are always welcome.”