Two active Second Street Players volunteers, Bob Connelly and Dan Marabello, have been seen by many in the downtown area actively working on the appearance of the Riverfront Theatre on Walnut Street in downtown Milford. Driven by their commitment to community service, this duo has been painting fixtures, replacing signage and overall restoring the theater that hosts several adult and children’s productions each year.
“I look at this as a labor of love,” commented Connelly when asked about why the two began work on the theatre. “This is what I can do to help out. Since I cannot perform myself this is a way I can give back.”
President of the Second Street Players Board of Directors Maria Fry, who also performs in several plays herself throughout the year, is excited to have seen the theatre grow as it continues to connect with other art organizations in the downtown area.
“Our mission is to provide enriching and affordable live theatre to the community by providing residents with an outlet for their creative abilities in the areas of art, dance, drama, music as well as the technical skills of theatre,” stated Ms. Fry. “We encourage our youth, through education, to understand theatre and explore their creative side.”
Second Street Players was started in 1980 by several community members who wanted to bring live theatre to Milford. They did not have a building or location so the first shows were performed wherever they could find room. The first production, I DO, I DO, was performed at Avenue Methodist Church and starred John Ranney and Dawn Renstrom. From there, the organization moved on to borrowing space in the Grange Building, across from City Hall on Second Street, where the name Second Street Players was born. In the late 1980’s Second Street Players purchased the 2 S Walnut Street Property, that had been a hardware store, as they renovated it into a theatre. The building was again renovated in 2001, raising the roof and adding loft storage to the rear of the building.
Second Street Players is a volunteer driven group where directors, actors, set designers and the board of directors are all unpaid volunteers that share a love of growing the theatrical arts in Milford. Included in their yearly productions, Second Street Players perform musicals, dramas, comedies, original works, the Children’s Dessert Theatre and cooperative productions with other cultural groups and schools.
For over 34 years the theatre has relied on ticket sales, community donations and grants from the Delaware Division of the Arts and National Endowment for the Arts for funding. With over three decades of wear, sweat equity is something every board member accepts as part of their responsibility to keep the building and organization moving forward. The Riverfront Theatre is now in need of some serious money for repairs and restoration. Among the problems that exist include the aging furnace, a cost of $4,000, and the replacement of the stage curtain, a cost of $9,500 dollars. According to Dan Marabello, Treasurer of Second Street Players, their are several other repairs needed for the theatre that could be as expensive as $17,000.
Building Manager Bob Connelly, who is a volunteer himself, is asking the public to consider a donation to help restore and renovate the Riverfront theatre so that Milford can continue to experience local theatrical arts for the foreseeable future. To support the theatre and the Second Street Players organization, individuals can donate online at http://www.secondstreetplayers.com/Join-Us-.html or call Tracy Dissinger, Vice President of Second Street Players, at 302-228-9613. To purchase tickets for an upcoming show at the Riverfront Theater individuals can visit the Second Street Players Box Office online at http://www.secondstreetplayers.com/Box-Office.html.