Best New Theater Space - 2004
Take four theater groups in need of a permanent performing space, add some cleaning fluid, sweat equity and a former Czechoslavakian social club, and you've got the Soulard Theatre Collective. DramaRama, ECHO, Hydeware and Spotlight theater companies focused their forces on Preservation Hall (named after the Jazz Club in New Orleans), cleaning, priming and using gallons of paint donated by Ace Hardware to gussy up the lobby. Because there was rarely more than one gallon of a particular color available, the lobby walls emerged as a rainbow (mostly pastels). In January 2004 the arts commandos from the Regional Arts Commission pitched in to paint the auditorium. Collaborating to build platforms and seating units and sharing equipment, the collective has presented everything from avant-garde to standard musicals, classics to comedies in a taxi. Every time you visit, there's something new -- a few more lighting instruments, a new (not noisy) air-conditioning system, unique lobby displays. And the venue is conveniently located amid Soulard's plethora of restaurants and bars, so you can start and end your night at the theater with fine food and drink. What could be better?