The Shea: Friday’s Red Baraat Show Starts an Exciting New Era in Turners Falls
I’m excited about going to the big opening night at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, which has a new leader and a new and diverse slate of music, drama and spoken word acts coming up for the new year. Friday’s event will feature Red Baraat, who thrilled the crowd last summer at the Green River Festival, along with DJ Bongohead. I spoke with Monte about his vision for the theater and why he took it on, adding to his already bulging schedule of appearances, getting up at 2 am for his 6 am shift on WRSI. But like my mom used to tell me, when you want something done, find a busy person, they’ll be the most likely to get it done!
Monte told me he was excited about the great team of real pros he has working with him. Jim Olsen, of Signature Sounds, Peter Kitchell, the artist who has done design work, and Josh Goldman, CEO of Australis who is leading the fundraising and renovations. “It’s a dream team,” he said. “They’ve been painting like mad men since December, and will be working right up until we open the doors on Friday. We’ve done an extreme amount of painting. Walking into the lobby felt a bit like walking into a Soviet era building, now it’s more artistic, with a beautiful new bar, with artwork and nice lighting. It’s a cool place to be when you’re not in the theater.”
Asked why he got involved in the time-consuming project, Monte talked about how much he loves the theater and Turners Falls, his adopted hometown. “People for some dumb reason pay attention to things that I get involved with, so I’ll use my bully pulpit to shine a light on things that are great.
My job is not in charge of the renovations and the details. But we didn’t buy a building, the town owns it, and we’ve raised $80,000 so far, and the money is going to the renovation and the production expenses. It’s very viable.” It’s possible that they will start producing their own shows, fund-raising shows to help the Shea, but for now, they are just renting out the theater to local groups, like Franklin County Tech, the Four Rivers Charter School and others.
Monte said he’d like to produce radio shows that involve music and conversation at the Shea, but he’s not going anywhere. “I’m too much of a megalomaniac to run a theater. I want to be on that stage AND on my radio show!” And who would his dream act be, if he could get anyone to perform there? “How about an intimate concert with Mavis Staples at the Shea? Or maybe Keith Richards? I’m going to continue to ask!”