The Wells Grand Reopening

The Wells Theatre takes a Walk Down Bourbon Street for the Grand Reopening

 The Wells Theatre, photo by Rico Marcelo

The Wells Theatre, photo by Rico Marcelo

For folks who might have been wondering why giant floodlights were lighting the sky of Norfolk on Friday night, it was in celebration of The Wells Theatre’s Grand Reopening after a near 9 month renovation; and boy was there a lot of new stuff to be unveiled. First, you were welcomed to the Wells with a brilliant new sign encircled by beautiful bright lights above the main entrance. Patrons were treated to a red carpet entrance into the newly lit rotunda and were greeted by the warmth and happiness of over 600 people filling every crevice and corner of the expansive new Tazewell Lounge. The lounge alone was packed as the Jazz stylings of the Norfolk State University Theatre Department instrumentalists filled the room with swinging tunes.

If things got a little too warm for the patrons there, they were able to travel up the stairs to the Well’s newly renovated Education Space, which easily hosts over 50 people. Our growing Education Department provides workshops, performances, and services to over 30,000 students a year, and with this new space, the Education team will be able to host productions, conduct workshops, and have a designated area to rehearse new works for young audiences in Hampton Roads. Speaking of young audiences, Friday night’s guests were treated to musical stylings by the Governor’s School for the Arts Young Jazz Ensemble. 

Perhaps one of the most noticeable elements of the renovation are the new lights now lining every inch of the newly christened “Perry Family Lobby” in the Wells Theatre. The mix of new and antique lighting allows patrons to feel right at home in the Wells while also breathing a bit of new light and life into the space. Patrons can also enjoy a long awaited addition...new restrooms! The women’s restroom received a considerable upgrade; nearly doubling its stall capacity, while the addition a family restroom and more space in the men’s restroom were welcome additions.

Guests were were also able to relax before the show in the heart and soul of the Wells...the theater itself, where The Harbor String Quartet with members from Virginia Symphony Orchestra serenaded the guests as they got ready to come down on Bourbon Street in that ‘rattle-trap streetcar named Desire.’

Before Streetcar got underway, Associate Producer Patrick Mullins and our newly hired Producing Artistic Director, Tom Quaintance, welcomed our audience in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Wells Theatre. “We really want to thank and celebrate our fantastic relationship with the city of Norfolk...it is something we’re looking forward to for our next 100 years in the Wells Theater.” Those words were then followed by Norfolk City Council Member and Vice Mayor Theresa Whibley, who said “We as a city recognize that so arts goes, so goes the city, and this is such a highlight...of what we as a city love to have and to see prosper.” 

 Tom Quaintance, Vice Mayor Dr. Theresa Whibley, and Paul Fraim, former mayor and current President of the Slover Library Foundation, cutting the ribbon for the Grand Reopening. Photo by Rico Marcelo

Tom Quaintance, Vice Mayor Dr. Theresa Whibley, and Paul Fraim, former mayor and current President of the Slover Library Foundation, cutting the ribbon for the Grand Reopening. Photo by Rico Marcelo

After the ribbon cutting, the Norview High School drumline treated everyone to a fantastic performance outside the rotunda, before everyone made their way to their seats for the opening night production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

The evening was unforgettable. The Wells Theatre was truly the shining diamond of Norfolk Friday night with love, art, laughs, and more people in the space than we knew what to do with. Patrons from across Hampton Roads made it out to enjoy the Grand Reopening of the Wells Theatre. Greg Cutter, a longtime patron, traveled all the way from a trip to Sapporo, Japan to make it back in time for the Grand Reopening! From his own words “I could’ve just stopped by and traveled the world, but it was opening night! And the Grand Reopening of The Wells Theatre...I know where my priorities are.” So when we say our loving patrons, friends, and family traveled from long and far to come back and be part of our Grand Reopening...we mean it!

If you weren’t able to join us for this magical event, you can see the Facebook Live coverage from our very own Ryan Clemens here, and see more photos from the evening here!