CoastLine: Mounting Challenges for Community Theater in Wilmington

Feb 24, 2017

The Red Barn Theater on Third Street in downtown Wilmington, launched by Linda Lavin and Steve Bakunas, is now on the market.  It’s widely expected to cease operation as a theater.  Thalian Association, the theater company that has rented the space for the last several years, is moving out in a matter of months.

Another small Wilmington venue, the Brown Coat Theater and Pub, closed its doors in October. 

And City Stage, an iconic venue in the Masonic building on Front Street in downtown Wilmington, also recently shuttered.

All this – while a newer venue – and largest in the area -- the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College – opens its doors bringing offerings this area has not been able to attract before. 

Today, we’ll explore the evolution of Wilmington’s theater scene – the business behind the recent closures, and whether a rising tide does, in fact, lift all boats – or whether the death knell has sounded for smaller theatrical companies in Wilmington.  And how many metaphors we can mix in 50 minutes…


Justin Smith, Artistic Director for Cape Fear Theatre Arts, Founder and former Artistic Director of City Stage at Level 5

John Staton, Arts and Entertainment Editor and Writer for StarNews Media in Wilmington

John Staton's recent piece on this topic, published in the StarNews Thursday, Feb. 23,2017: 

3 closings shock Wilmington’s theater community, but in face of challenges new opportunities emerge

Steve Vernon, Artistic Director of Big Dawg Productions on Castle Street in Wilmington.