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NH Theater Factory group eyeing Londonderry for homebase

Officials who hope to transform a fledgling theater group into a year-round arts organization featuring Broadway performers are hoping to make their permanent home in Londonderry.

During Monday night's Londonderry Town Council meeting, town officials met with Joel Mercier and Wallace Pineault, founding members of the NH Theatre Factory, for a conceptual discussion of the troupe's growth model.

Both veteran theater professionals, the men have been working on plans for the theater for the past two years. Once the nonprofit organization finds its permanent home, the theater would bring year-round professional performances to the Granite State, as well as offer performing arts programs to local schoolchildren.

"We both feel New Hampshire is missing something," Mercier told councilors earlier this week. "We have some terrific summer theaters that work with unionized Broadway performers and we have some terrific year-round theaters that don't, but this would bring a Broadway stamp of professionalism to the area."

Once the proper facilities are found, the NH Theatre Factory would work on a threefold basis: a mainstage program with a regular schedule of Broadway-style plays and musicals; a youth program, and an initiative to bring new works to the stage.

"Unfortunately, a lot of youth programs tend to have an exclusivity," Mercier said. "We've developed a system that would welcome any students that are interested in the theater arts."

The theater officials said Londonderry was a top choice for the theater because of its proximity to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and its commuter base.

"We're not looking for the town to support us financially, but we're hoping you'll all buy tickets," Mercier told the town council.

Performances will take place at the Adams Memorial Opera House in nearby Derry as theater officials look for space in Londonderry.

Councilor Tom Dolan suggested the duo consider contacting the Londonderry School District, Londonderry Grange Hall, Londonderry Lions Hall or other local venues for potential performance venues.

Pineault said that ideally, a facility would have space for a 300-person audience as well as rooms in which to rehearse.

"A 10,000 square-foot warehouse would work well," he told town officials.

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