On any given afternoon at the Salem YMCA, excited kids from all over the North Shore pour into the Performing Arts program as they have for the past four years ready to hone their acting and singing skills. This month, something is different. The program now has its very own state-of-the-art theater inside the Y space right in downtown Salem. The much anticipated renovation of historic Ames Hall is complete with new balcony seating, a larger stage and backstage area, improved theater lighting and sound as well as climate control all of which make this venue just what the growing YMCA’s theater program needs. Ames Hall is now ready to open its original doors at 290 Essex Street to welcome the community into the beautifully restored theater.
“We are so thrilled to have this incredibly stunning and special space connected to our Y and available to the children in our performing arts program”, said Nicole Leotsakos, Performing Arts Director at the YMCA of the North Shore. She added, “It gives the children in our program the opportunity to perform in a true theatrical setting unlike anything else in the city.”
The grand opening celebration includes a weekend of events beginning with a very special performance by international opera singer Marquita Lister on February 7 at 7:30pm with a special VIP pre-performance event beginning at 6:30. Ms. Lister has earned worldwide critical acclaim for the past two decades performing for audiences around the world. Also, on February 8, a Community-wide Arts Day will include performances by the North Shore Y Theatre Company, Cape Ann Improv, Salem Theatre Company, The Boston Ballet, Salem State University Music Department. The event will also feature an Art Gallery with pieces from the Salem Arts Association.
When the YMCA of the North Shore launched its Theatre Company in 2009, it embarked on a new endeavor designed specifically for kids that are passionate about the arts. As budget cuts in educational systems across the state often shift priorities away from the arts, many children look for a place to pursue their artistic interests. The Y provides a welcoming place for kids from all communities to participate in a variety of performance programs from musicals to Shakespeare as well as specialty performance groups including Improv Troupe and Glee Club. In just four short years, the program has served over 500 youth. Each program continues the YMCA of the North Shore’s mission to provide a wide range of opportunities for all kids to thrive; whether it’s in the gym, the pool, or on a stage.
Restoring Ames Memorial Hall back to its original purpose as a performance venue began in 2010 as part of the Y’s campaign for the Creative Arts Center at the Salem Y. The history of Ames Hall is as multi-faceted as the city of Salem itself. A generous bequest of $40,000 from Colonel George L. Ames in 1896 made the construction of the Hall possible. In the late 19th century, it served as the home for performances, speeches, and community gatherings. In the 1970s, the Hall was converted into a gymnasium where it fell into disrepair. The YMCA, with the support of a group of dedicated volunteers raised over $1 million dollars to bring this “Creative Arts Center” to life and now, more than 100 years since it was built, Ames Hall is open again, in all its grandeur. It is available to the community for events in addition to providing a spectacular home for all the YMCA Theatre Company performances for years to come.
Grand opening weekend event details:
Friday, February 7 - Celebrate with a pre-performance VIP event at 6:30 pm. VIP Tickets are $125 (includes hors d’oeuvres and wine an hour before the show and a post-performance meet and greet with Ms. Lister). General Admission Tickets are $75. The performance begins at 7:30pm.
Saturday, February 8 – Join us for a Community Arts Day including performances by the North Shore Y Theatre Company, Cape Ann Improv, Salem Theatre Company, The Boston Ballet, Salem State University Music Department. The event will also feature an Art Gallery with pieces from the Salem Arts Association. Tickets are $15 or adults and $5 for children.
For more information about Ames Hall Grand Opening events and the performing arts program, please contact YMCA of the North Shore Performing Arts Director Nicole Leotsakos at email@example.com or visit http://www.northshoreymca.org/programs/youth-development/arts,-theatre-dance/ameshall/