Circle Theatre‘s space on West 4th Street in Fort Worth is a prime location: It’s actually in Sundance Square, only a block south of the Caravan of Dreams. A natural for some walk-up attendance, pretty rare for live theater in North Texas.
But the space has several huge drawbacks. One is the serious lack of street presence. The 125-seat theater is in the basement of the handsome old Sanger Building, so basically, what you see on 4th Street is a doorway. That sounds very boho-East Village-y, but it has been perfectly possible to drive past and not even see the thing.
That has been changing — with more lights and signs (see image). And now the theater has announced that it has successfully raised $310,000 for a serious makeover, most of which should be unveiled when its 2009 season debuts March 21. In addition to the new signs, the theater is getting new seats, new lighting, new box office, new storage and a new paint job. Nothing can be done about the other drawback, the two fat columns that cause the theater’s layout to be three-sided with the major seating block straight-on from the front of the stage, and the two smaller blocks wedged at 90-degree angles on either side. It’s a little like the Undermain in that way — but without the compensating, bare-concrete, boho-East Village-y atmosphere. Nothing can be done about those columns because they’re pretty load-bearing — you know, holding up the rest of the Sanger Building. But that still leaves room for these major improvements.