The Theatre at Washington founder and owner Wendy Weinberg announced this week that the venue’s quarter-century of “providing professional performances and service to the community” will be continued under the new ownership of longtime Rappahannock resident Nancy Raines.
Raines, best known as co-chair of the Rappahannock Association for the Arts and the Community’s (RAAC) annual studio and gallery tour, has agreed to acquire the 230-seat Gay Street theater building and its operations from Weinberg in December, after the theater’s fall season finishes.
“I am pleased to continue Ms. Weinberg’s tradition of bringing professional entertainment to the Theatre as well as continuing to make the Theatre available as a community resource,” Raines said in a prepared statement. By phone on Tuesday, Raines added: “I love everything Wendy has done with the Theatre, and I wouldn’t want to change a thing.”
“It was a meeting of minds,” Weinberg said Monday, referring to her talks about the sale with Raines. “I think we agreed on just about everything.” Raines said Weinberg has wanted to offer more performances that appeal to younger audiences, and that she’ll be hoping to do that as well after the changeover.
Weinberg said she had “long planned to assure the theater’s continued successful operations before my 80th birthday” — which is next spring. After some 25 years as the owner-manager, she said, she is “delighted to be transferring the reins to a leader of the arts community in Rappahannock County.”
Weinberg’s final show will be the Nov. 22 jazz concert by world-renowned sax and clarinet player Ken Peplowski, who’ll be joined by Chuck Redd and Tommy Cecil. Redd first played at the Theatre many years ago, Weinberg said, with the Charlie Byrd Trio.
Raines said the first concert of the 2015 spring season, on Jan. 17, will feature a longtime Rappahannock favorite, jazz pianist Bill Harris, and that she and Weinberg have conferred in lining up the rest of the spring schedule, which will also include a chamber concert in the Smithsonian at Little Washington series and Grammy-winning guitarist Laurence Juber’s annual visit to Gay Street.
Performers new to the Theatre, Raines said, will include the contemporary classical Jake Schepps’ Quintet and acclaimed acoustic guitar soloist Jacob Johnson. Classical pianist Audrey Andrist and ragtime artist Russell Wilson will also return to the Theatre.
Raines’ and Weinberg’s joint announcement said the venue will continue to host RAAC’s monthly Friday movie series — plus a new RAAC-sponsored film festival in mid-April — and plans to continue hosting Rappahannock’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day observance in January and the Lions Club’s annual Bland Music Contest for local schoolchildren in February.