This past Saturday September 12th, the Davis Square Theatre reemerged as The Rockwell, continuing its legacy of providing a home for the region’s flourishing arts community in honor of its late owner, Somerville business leader and restaurateur Ken Kelly (The Independent, Foundry on Elm, Saloon, Brass Union, River Bar). The new incarnation of the playhouse included the name dedication, an updated look, equipment upgrades and original programming curated by the theater.
The venue was originally established in 1987 as The Boston Baked Theatre and later, it was known as Jimmy Tingle’s Off Broadway. In 2010, Kelly acquired the landmark and reopened it as the “Davis Square Theatre” in 2012 under the direction of Boston actor and producer, Gabriel Kuttner. Since then, Kelly and his team have fulfilled the need of providing an affordable intimate setting for emerging and established artists alike in a landscape where independent venues are sadly disappearing every day due to lucrative real estate developments.
The Rockwell pays homage to Rockwell College, the secondary school that Ken Kelly attended in Tipperary, Ireland, before immigrating to America. Following Kelly’s passing after a long battle with cancer in December 2015, his family continues his legacy by maintaining ownership, operations and the mission of this beloved Somerville venue.
Theater director Damon Leibert, who helps manifest Kelly’s deep commitment to the Somerville arts community, said, “Ken was not only a huge supporter of many local organizations and businesses in the community, but also of the arts. He vowed to keep the space as a performing arts center where others might have seized the opportunity to develop a highly profitable nightlife business in the bustling Davis Square neighborhood. The venue’s next chapter continues a commitment that Ken made and would be proud to call The Rockwell.”
Historically, the Davis Square Theatre has hosted a wide range of programming from children’s interests to national comedy headlines to burlesque performances and becoming the resident venue of the popular Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare show in 2015. With its name change, The Rockwell will begin to produce original content in an effort to further define its identity while alleviating the name confusion with the Somerville Theatre, a nearby movie theater with no affiliation. The theater will continue to welcome local acts and offer the space to patrons, organizations, theatrical companies, and comedians at affordable rates.
The revamped space has underwent cosmetic upgrades to both the lobby and theater including new flooring, fresh paint, theatre curtains and lighting while the bathrooms have been fully renovated. The Rockwell now also boasts upgraded technical equipment, an HVAC system and is proud to debut a new box office and team members this fall.
With a capacity of 203, The Rockwell offers a full bar, catering options for private events, a sound system for live music, theatrical lighting, projection capabilities and the venue is handicap accessible.
Situated behind Saloon and beneath Foundry on Elm, The Rockwell is located 255 Elm Street in Somerville’s Davis Square neighborhood. For more information, please call (617) 684-5335 or visit http://www.therockwell.org.