'Oh Happy Day!' Greenwich Odeum Is Back
Saturday night's grand re-opening was a rip-roaring celebration of Rhode Island performers making music.
The evening kicked off with trumpeter Ritchee Price's sparkling rendition of the National Anthem and through eight more acts, the enthusiasm stayed strong and the acoustics rang true for the Greenwich Odeum's reopening concert.
The encore song, performed by the entire ensemble, perhaps said it best, "Oh Happy Day."
That happy day was gained after four years of considerable effort.
Strict fire regulations put in place after the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick killed 100 people led to the Odeum's closure in 2007.
The town's decision to put the Odeum back on the property tax rolls in 2009 kickstarted efforts to reopen the theater. While in operation, the nonprofit corporation had been exempt from property taxes.
A loosening of the fire code in 2010 provided additional motivation to reopen the theater, since suddenly the amount of money needed to be in fire code compliance was significantly less.
The Odeum Corporation's expanded its board of directors. In December 2011, the theater received $141,600 from the Champlin Foundations. Since then, the all the seats in the theater have been recovered, the main floor has been redone, and fire sprinklers have been installed over the stage, as well as a host of smaller renovations. A gala fundraiser at the theater in December marked the first time it had hosted anything since 2007.
The long-sought Certificate of Occupancy came on Friday, just a day before the reopening concert. By showtime, the theater was ready.
There remains, however, the possibility of litigation over the Odeum Board's assertion it owes nothing to Steve Erinakes, whose family long owned the theater and who was the one who transformed the former movie house into a nonprofit performance venue in 1992.
But Saturday night, there were only smiles, and lots and lots of cheering and applause.