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Bringing ‘Carol’ back to life

Jonathan Newell and Joe Tolomeo stand on the stage at the Carol Theatre. Tolomeo is helping to bring an arts program into the space which recently hosted the Rum Runners event.

Jonathan Newell and Joe Tolomeo stand on the stage at the Carol Theatre. Tolomeo is helping to bring an arts program into the space which recently hosted the Rum Runners event. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

Locals are looking to breathe life back into the Carol Theatre here, recently turning to a man who has done the same with a Hudson Falls landmark.

Members of the Tri Lakes Business Alliance heard from local businessman and musician Jonathan Newell during its April 18 meeting about his experience in turning the old Washington County Courthouse in Hudson Falls into the Hudson River Music Hall.

“We wanted to create events to bring to the venue and make the place a driving factor in the town to bring in more business,” said Newell, who is now seeking to resurrect the former Strand Theater, which is now occupied by the town of Kingsbury offices. “We set up something where it was easy for people to come in and perform and provide an opportunity to foster creativity in local artists.”

Newell said the Carol’s location in the center of towns ideal for a cultural center for Chestertown.

“It is easy to get into town and find places here,” he said. “I would be excited thinking about the prospects here. It has great potential and I think a thing like this is a no-brainer. You can have this little hub that self-sustains.”

Al Tolomeo, a musician who lives in Chestertown and wants to see a Carol transformation similar to what Newell has done in Hudson Falls.

“We have put on concerts in front of the town hall and the next step, we feel, is the theater,” Tolomeo said. “I want the Carol Theatre to be a centerpiece for all sorts of entertainment. The possibilities are endless with this building and I think that the timing is right. Everyone is looking towards the arts right now and we have good cooperation with the owners.”

During the meeting, topics such as creating a non-profit to run the theater and finding financing opportunities were discussed.

“You need to get a group that can research the grant opportunities and look at what this can be in the future,” Newell said. “You basically need to set up a board with a lawyer and officers to run the non-profit.”

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