Can the Show Go On?
When the Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre closed, it was the end of an era. Was it the end of a legacy, too?
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Was it the End of a Legacy?
Barbara Colatriano, TLB’s former box office manager, says the family legacy is alive—and she saw the theater razed. “It was a very sad day,” she says. “But it was a building. The memories are still there.”
The sale of the property, which included the golf course, eight acres of land where the theater sat, and 20 buildable lots, was listed for $8.5 million. (The sale was private. No figures are available.) The Onix Group, a hospitality, healthcare and commercial real estate development company based in Kennett Square, purchased the complex. Currently under construction are two 9,000-square-foot medical office buildings that will stand adjacent to the Cadia Healthcare Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation facility. The nursing home will sit on former theater soil.
Mike Gnade, director of business development for Onix, says the company hopes to honor the legacy of TLB. “Many nursing homes have themed rooms,” he says. “Vicki has great photos from the theater. We’d like to use them as decorations, which we’d place throughout the facility.”
The culinary legacy is sizzling. In 2005 Al’s grandson, Tony Immediato, opened Immediato’s Subs and Steaks in Middletown. The business was such a hit that Tony added a catering arm called Immediato’s Italian Specialties, complete with a state-of-the-art bakery. In April he opened Immediato’s Bistro next door to the sub shop.
One family member is poised to keep TLB’s show biz legacy alive. Hugo Immediato Jr. is already moving toward the spotlight, in fact.
In 2008 he was named executive director of the Rehoboth Beach Theatre of the Arts in Celebration Mall, the former home of Epworth United Methodist Church. As an employee of the center, he is prohibited from using the TLB name or logo. Yet there are more similarities to TLB at the complex than there are differences.
Unlike TLB, the center features art galleries and working artist studios. Art enthusiasts can see an exhibit, buy art or watch multimedia artists at work.
Like TLB, theater season lineups feature diverse musical and comedy acts, one-man shows and full-fledged musicals. (“Satisfaction: A Tribute to the Rolling Stones” plays July 16.) Hugo Jr. hired Weber-Prianti Productions to design the stage in the sanctuary. He employs TLB’s former sound and production technicians. On the lower level is Ovations Restaurant, which is open most evenings, has a nice bar, and offers pre- and post-show deals. It’s not dinner theater per se, but food service is integral to the mission. And as TLB did in Pike Creek, the center functions in a town that’s been, save for performances by Clear Space Productions, bereft of professional theater.
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