Emery Theatre preview packs artistic punch

NOTE: Soapbox Media is a sponsor of The Requiem Project.

Local musicians, singers, artists and history buffs anticipate one day this month with a single, or make that a double, dose of expectation: 11.11.11.

That's the day The Requiem Project, also known as Tara Lindsey Gordon and Tina Manchise, opens the doors to the Emery Theatre in Over-the-Rhine. The space, built in 1911 with impeccable acoustics as the first concert hall in the United States to have no obstructed seats, will host a new generation of admirers determined to rebuild and restore it.

The weekend-long celebration begins with a Friday night fundraiser, a slate of building tours and performances. Headliners Over the Rhine will be joined by musician and composer Peter Adams, choreographer Heather Britt, members of the modern chamber group concert:nova, Exhale Dance Tribe and Madcap Puppet Theatre. In addition, last week Drew Lachey was announced to perform and his sister Lea Lachey will be dancing with Exhale Dance Tribe

"It's not just an Over the Rhine concert," says Gordon, who praises Karin Bergquist and Linford Detwiler for their help with the Emery Project. "They are the opposite of divas."

Gordon and Manchise attract talent, from Over the Rhine to a host of volunteers, led by Simone Broughton and her husband Darrin Kuzma, who scrubbed floors and cleared out spaces in preparation for the premiere event. From the 1,600-seat theater to nearly 120,000 square feet of artistic space (the first two of seven floors will be open for tours this month), the Emery captivates returning and new visitors alike. Somewhere in its long-forgotten hallways, inspiration remains as palpable as the passion of the people dedicated to its restoration.

When the building opens on 11.11.11, visitors can tour dozens of artists' work, including glass artist Margot Gotoff, Cedric Cox and photos by Soapbox's own Scott Beseler Michael Wilson,  the event honoree. Gordon calls the Norwood native Wilson, whose photography has graced many an album cover, "the first in the water."

She and Manchise contacted Wilson to gauge his interest before they knew he was based in Cincinnati. "He spent two days shooting the Emery," Gordon says. "There couldn't be a more amazing friend to this project."

After the preview celebration starts Friday, festivities continue through the weekend. Saturday includes a free 2 p.m. concert by the Cincinnati Boychoir, free Chipotle lunch for kid guests and a visit from Cincinnati Zoo to You animals. Sunday, the Cincinnati Children's Choir stops in for a free 2 p.m. show.

Friday night guests can tour the building, where dozens of artists' work, curated by ParProjects, will be on display, then see the concert, and enjoy a couple of after-party options that run until 2 a.m., all for just $75. Dinner and corporate sponsorship options remain available

By Elissa Yancey
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