The new president of the Sorg Opera Revitalization Group said his new board hasn’t met yet to plot the new course of the organization, but Roger Daniel said they generally want the 129-year-old theater on South Main Street to be a true community theater.
Daniel said the board will be meeting soon to develop a strategic plan as well as vision and mission statements.
“We want this to be a community theater. We’re a nonprofit owned by the community and we want to develop diverse offerings,” he said. “We want to attract broader age groups.”
Daniel, a local businessman who has served on the Downtown Middletown Inc. board for seven years, has been on the SORG board for the past three years. He also owns a downtown building and is interested in seeing the revitalization of downtown Middletown.
He said the shows at the Sorg Opera House have been mostly Jazz, blues and Big Band genres and hopes to have more exciting shows in the future. Daniel said there are nearly a dozen more shows planned at the 730-seat seat theater before the end of 2019. He said the theater recently featured a Steely Dan show and has scheduled an Elton John tribute group in November and a Motown group in January.
“We’re trying to figure out what’s interesting to millennials,” he said.
Daniel also said the new board will need to look at the renovation of the Commercial Building that’s attached to the Sorg Opera House. He said the first floor could be renovated for retail space and the upper floors could be used for office and residential space. In addition, the building has a 3,600 square-foot ballroom with 20-foot ceilings on the fourth floor that could be renovated as an entertainment venue.
“We definitely want to fully economic develop the property we own,” Daniel said.
The SORG board was reorganized after the departure last month of former president Chuck Miller, who resigned his seat last month to become executive director of the Fox Theater in Hutchinson, Kan.; and his wife Denise Brodsky who served as the organization’s secretary; and the resignation of former treasurer Ken Bowman. Miller, Brodsky and Bowman were also the three co-founders of the Sorg Opera Revitalization Group.
Daniel was appointed by the board to serve as president. The board also appointed Chris Riva as vice president; Denise Hamet as secretary; and Nancy Griffith as its treasurer.
Other SORG board members include Bob Melloh, Jeff Johnson, Dan Schaub, Dawn Wamsley, and Linda Moorman.
Riva said the board is currently working to replace other vacant spots.
Miller, Brodsky and Bowman all played critical roles in the development and the success of the opera house during his seven years of service to the SORG organization including renovating and reopening Middletown’s historic theater.
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