Last year, The Stage Door opened next to the Peoples Bank Theatre as a lounge and hangout space for theatre guests. The space also serves as the Box Office and gift shop for the theatre. In its first year, however, the space’s use has expanded and The Stage Door is now one of the hippest venues in town.

“Almost since the day we reopened the theatre, we realized we needed more concession space, as well as a more inviting box office location,” said Drew Tanner, Marketing Director for the Peoples Bank Theatre, on why they decided to renovate the former Peoples News storefront into The Stage Door. “As quaint as the theatre’s box office is, it’s not particularly conducive to year-round ticketing for a modern performing arts center. In The Stage Door, guests can step in out of the elements and talk face-to-face with our box office staff when purchasing tickets or a membership. Before a show, they can grab a drink.”

More than just a transactional space, The Stage Door also gives the theatre a great space for pre- and post-show events and receptions. And, on a very practical level, the back portion of The Stage Door houses the theatre’s administrative offices for the theatre.

“The past twelve months have really been a period of experimentation for us! One of the uses that became clear to us, almost immediately, was The Stage Door’s ability to host events before or after a show,” said Drew. “Sponsors have chosen to have private receptions there, our guest artists have had their book signings and meet-and-greets in the space, Michelle Waters (Hold the Note) has hosted some great band interviews in the space, and we’ve had our opening acts play for after-parties following a concert.”

The Stage Door also allowed the Peoples Bank Theatre to really experiment with programs in ways that they weren’t able to in a 950-seat theatre. “We’ve had drawing classes, open mic nights, our monthly Song Colony songwriting workshops, our new monthly Drink & Think series and other events that really work well with small groups of one or two dozen people,” he said. “Our booking agent, Todd Burge, has also put together a very successful series of Listening Room concerts over the past few months, featuring local and regional artists and songwriters, and packing 50 people into the room.”

Because the space is small, the shows are more personal and every seat in the house is a good one. “During our Listening Room concerts, in particular, the focus is really on the musician and their craft,” said Drew. “And because it’s such an intimate space, and you’re just feet from the audience, the reaction and energy in the room is very immediate. The main stage in Peoples Bank Theatre is amazing in its own ways–and strikingly intimate for a 950-seat room–but The Stage Door has more of this homey, house concert feel that’s hard to replicate in a larger space.”

Michelle agrees. “I love The Stage Door because it’s a small, intimate hangout spot. They’re working to offer a variety of interesting and unique events that you can’t find in the MOV, and they’re a sister venue of the Peoples Bank Theatre, which is one of my favorite venues in the whole Valley,” she said.

While there are a number of venues for live music in the Mid-Ohio Valley, The Stage Door is really coming into its own as this nurturing arts incubator space, with programs like the Song Colony, Drink & Think, and the Listening Room series. Drew said, “It’s a really comfortable space where local artists can test out new ideas in a very responsive–and supportive–environment. I’m looking forward to seeing what the next few months bring to the space as we continue to experiment with programs.”

Follow The Stage Door on Facebook for upcoming events! The next Listening Room event features local musician, Anthony Mossburg on April 6th.