Apollo Civic Theater gets new board president

June 12, 2002|by SARAH MULLIN

MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - The Apollo Civic Theatre board of directors has a new president who hopes to make major renovations to the theater while enhancing awareness of the city's historic gem.

After 30 years of devotion and dedication to the Apollo Civic Theatre as renovator, lighting and technical director, teacher and actor, Michael Noll will don a new hat as the president of the theater's board of directors.

"I feel like I've grown up here," said Noll, 51, of Martinsburg.

He was elected as president in May, and in his new role has a vision for the future of the 89-year-old theater at 128 E. Martin St.


Noll's vision consists of major renovations and publicity projects.

A consulting firm helped determine that the theater needed a new stage, a shop to build sets, an enlarged lobby and an elevator to make the third floor and the Roseland Ballroom more accessible, he said.

To make the renovations a reality, the board will have to raise between $5 million and $6 million during its capital campaign, Noll said.

To help achieve that goal, the board will hire a fund-raising consultant, he said.

Aside from renovations, Noll said it is important for people to understand how much it costs the theater to put on a performance.

He said it can cost $6,000 to $8,000 to purchase the copyrights to a play, buy costumes, build sets and supply music. All the acting and behind-the-scenes work is done by volunteers.

Noll said efforts will be made to encourage the community to come to the theater and support it.

"We've been told we're a secret a lot of people don't know about," he said.

Noll's visions for the Apollo stem from a long love affair he has had with the historic theater. It began when he was 22 years old when the theater, then owned by Elwood Lane and operated as a cinema, became Berkeley County's main venue for live theater.

It was a shared venture between live theater and movies, and a screen can be seen hanging above the stage to be used when needed.

Noll became a mainstay in the theater, going so far as sleeping there when he came home from college on the weekends, he said.

In 1975, the nonprofit Berkeley County Civic Theater, the predecessor to the Apollo Civic Theatre, bought the theater for $45,000 plus a $6,000 down payment, Noll said.

Noll said he has not missed a performance at the theater even if he was not directly taking part in the production.

"My wife (Karen) said she doesn't have to worry about another woman because the Apollo is my mistress," he said.

Shirley Baker, the theater's executive administrative assistant, said she has never met a person who has the dedication Noll has for the theater.

She said she tells Noll all the time, "Mike, you can't have blood in your veins, you have the Apollo running through them."

In December, the theater may take on a new decor, he said. Currently, the theater's interior is a pale blue and decorated with plaster Italian Renaissance maidens, fountains and wispy floras painted in gold.

Noll said the golden ornamental decorations will remain, but the background will be painted burgundy to match the colors of the lobby.

He said patrons, new and old, can expect to see some new and exciting changes in the future.

This summer, the youth summer theater workshop will produce "Once Upon A Mattress," a musical version of the "Princess and the Pea" fable, from July 25-28, Baker said.

The 2002-2003 season begins in September with "A Chorus Line" and includes "Mame," "Two from Galilee," "King Lear" and "Annie Get Your Gun," Baker said.

For more information on events, to volunteer or to make a donation, call 1-304-263-6766.

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