“It’s been waiting for us,” claims Artistic Director Vincent M. Lancisi, who founded Everyman. “If you believe in that stuff, as I do.”
Construction continues, but the Everyman staff has already spent several weeks settling in. The grand opening is planned for next month, when Everyman will christen the stage with a new production of the sprawling, explosive drama “August: Osage County.” Lancisi alternately grouses (mainly about costs, which he can itemize down to the light bulb) and beams (endless space, tons of gleaming new equipment) as he guides a tour of the 21st-century amenities surrounding his new 256-seat venue.
The story of a theatrical outfit moving out of a storefront and into legitimate architecture and design has been told often in Washington, but it’s just beginning in Baltimore. The evolutionary arc is familiar:
●Plucky troupe takes root in a run-down part of town. Since 1994, Everyman has been producing in a small space two miles north on Charles Street; the venue had 170 seats, awkward structural columns in the middle of the room and 11-foot-high ceilings.
“I like to watch the actors sweat,” a longtime patron recently wrote to Lancisi. This was a love letter to the little theater’s intimacy.
That block on Charles Street was 80 percent vacant when Everyman moved in. Now it’s reasonably aglow as part of the up-and-coming Station North Arts and Entertainment District.
●Find a niche; get noticed. The niche part has been easy because the theatrical competition is still fairly thin in Baltimore. Lancisi has been free to program standards: big American dramas by Arthur Miller and August Wilson and recent hits that for most locals don’t warrant an expensive schlep to New York.
This season’s slate features major, if obvious, titles by Pulitzer- and Tony-winning writers — Donald Margulies’s “Time Stands Still,” Yasmina Reza’s “God of Carnage,” Suzan-Lori Parks’s “Top Dog/Underdog.” All, including “August: Osage County,” are Baltimore premieres.
The notice gradually swelled as Everyman staked its reputation on local actors. Baltimore’s big gun, Centerstage, often hired out-of-town talent, but last month Everyman regular Bruce Nelson starred there as Edgar Allan Poe. The actors are such a core component of Everyman that ghostly images of their faces are burned into the wall sconces inside the theater and along the roomy corridors. Oversize banners featuring more images of company members will soon be unfurled between the soaring columns outside.