After a three-year search, Birmingham’s Terrific New Theatre will soon have a new permanent space, thanks to a gift of a building from longtime supporters John and Louise Beard.
The 7,500-square-foot, one-story building at 2112 Fifth Ave. North is across the street from the Redmont Hotel in downtown Birmingham. The Beards worked with Harbert Realty Services to purchase the building and gave it to the theater, which has been looking for a home since shutting its doors at Pepper Place during the pandemic.
“John and I are extremely happy to support TNT in acquiring this historic building,” Louise Beard said in a press release. “My love of Birmingham’s community theater was nurtured by Carl Stewart, an original TNT founder. Seeing TNT return to actively participate as one of Birmingham’s essential community theaters feeds my soul.”
TNT’s executive director, Tam DeBolt, said the partnership between TNT, the Beards and Harbert Realty Services “is a testament to TNT’s commitment to growth, innovation and enriching the vibrant arts scene in the Birmingham community.”
TNT hopes to offer some programming while the building is being renovated, and a capital campaign will be launched soon, she said.
Chuck Evans, president of TNT’s board of trustees, says that for DeBolt and the board members, finding a new home for TNT has been a labor of love.
“The protracted process has been arduous at times, but keeping TNT alive has been worth every moment,” he said. “And there simply are not enough words to adequately thank John and Louise Beard for their generous donation and their continued dedication to and love for Terrific New Theatre.”
Carl Stewart and his partner, Steve Stella, founded TNT in 1986. Stella designed every show there until his death in 1996, and Stewart directed every show until he retired in 2016. He died in 2022.
TNT originally set up shop in the 100 block of 21st Street South (now Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard South) in downtown Birmingham. In 1991, the theater moved to Pepper Place on Second Avenue South, changing locations in the same building a couple of years later.
The theater remained at Pepper Place until July 2020, when it closed its doors officially as a result of the pandemic.
Cari Gisler Oliver, who worked with Stewart and Stella throughout their tenures at TNT and is now vice president of the theater’s board, said the two always hoped to own their own theater space.
“I remember when we moved into Pepper Place, Carl told me that this was temporary and that TNT could have a permanent home soon,” Oliver recalls. “Although I’m sad neither got to see this day, I know they are both rooting for us to bring their dream to full fruition.”
LIVE design group will be the architect and Locke General Contractors the construction firm during the renovation of the new location. TNT hopes to open the new space in 2024.