The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 18, 2019 1:00 am

Electric Works gaining arts group

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Electric Works has added a local performing arts organization to its roster of future tenants, officials announced Thursday.

Three Rivers Music Theatre has signed a letter of intent to lease space on the former General Electric campus near downtown, making it the nonprofit's first long-term home.

The organization, which was founded in 2016, is expanding operations to include rehearsal, performance and education spaces. The community group's Triple Threat Performance Arts Academy provides arts education programs to hundreds of students each year.

Andy Planck, executive artistic director and Fort Wayne native, said moving operations to Electric Works makes sense for several reasons, including the vibrancy both ventures share. 

Three Rivers Music Theatre now works out of 212 Pearl St., a location Planck always knew would be temporary.

“It's just not feasible for the long term,” he said. “We make it work out of sheer creativity and gumption.”

The theater group performs some shows there, some elsewhere. Larger venues including Embassy Theatre and Arts United Center are too expensive for the group.

Planck has yet to meet with an architect to plan the group's new theater space, but he expects it will seat about 200 and be built in black box style, which is valued for its simplicity and flexibility. He expects to move in the beginning of 2021.

It's too soon to estimate what the expansion into Electric Works will cost, but Planck expects his organization will soon launch a capital campaign to fund it. The nonprofit will need lighting and sound systems in addition to chairs and risers.

“It will be a big number, a scary number, but I think we can do it,” Planck said of the as-yet-undecided amount.

Jeff Kingsbury, a partner in Electric Works developer RTM Ventures, said Three Rivers Music Theatre will fit right in with future neighboring tenants including Fort Wayne Metals Research Products Corp., Indiana Tech, Medical Informatics Engineering, Parkview Health and Fort Wayne Community Schools.

“Successful innovation districts from Boston to St. Louis to Seattle are often an eclectic mix of the highly technical and highly creative,” he said in a statement. “Bringing these organizations and talent together in a place like Electric Works will spark exciting possibilities.”

The local theater group has established a schedule of staging three full musical productions each year in addition to cabaret performances.

Three Rivers Music Theatre's next production will be “Fun Home,” based on Alison Bechdel's coming-out memoir. The Broadway production was nominated for 12 Tony Awards in 2015 and won five, including Best Musical.

The production, which will feature a local cast of paid performers, will be at Wunderkammer Co., 3402 Fairfield Ave. from Feb. 22 through March 16.

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