Karen Arbutine & Associates

The Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center: Star of Sanford, FL

Mon, Nov 02, 2009 at 3:54PM

The Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center has a rich history of bringing entertainment to Sanford, Florida.   In 1923 the theater was named after the developers of the building, Frank Miller and Edward Lane.  In 1933, the theater was renamed the Ritz Theater by its new owners.   Live stage shows and motion pictures entertained patrons until 1978, when the theater closed after failing to keep up with competitors and reopened brieflyin 1984 as the Showtime Cantina. In the mid-90's,  a local real estate broker, Helen Stairs along with her family, helped refurbish the building.   The family helped with funding the project, matching the City of Sanford's contributions, and in the late 1990's when the funding ran out, Stairs and her husband Karl personally financed the rest of the project.  Karl and their sons volunteered their time and labor.  The theater was named the Helen Stairs Theater for the Performing Arts after her contributions and bringing back entertainment to the community.  Then in 2007, A member of the Wayne Densch Charities, Leonard Williams, purchased the building next to the theater and donated it to the Helen Stairs Theater.  The building provided enough space to house offices, a snack bar, prop and costume storage and a rehersal hall for the in-house theater company, and it became known as the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center.  In the past three years, Wayne Densch Charities has invested more than $600,000 in the theater, allowing it to be kept up and providing the best entertainment for the Seminole County community. The  585 seat complex has a balcony, orchestra pit, and state of the art sound system and offers top notch, live theater experiences.  These investments brought entertainment back to the community as well as providing an economic impact to the city of Sanford and Seminole County, Florida.  The hard work that the 14 members of the board of directors for the Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center is paying off.  More than $3000,000 has been raised for the renovations, upgrades and maintenanceto the  historical buildings.

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