Known as The Cat, the theater recently opened in the Arts & Design District at 254 First Ave. SW, where the former live music venue abruptly closed earlier this year.
Will Wood, founding artistic director of The Cat (see first image), said he never intended to become a venue operator and was only looking for space to rent for about a month to produce his upcoming August production of Cole Porter’s “You Never Know.”
But Wood signed a three-year lease after one visit and moved into the space in February.
The Cat opened earlier this month. Its first show, a cabaret performance of “Side by Side by Sondheim” presented by the Carmel Theatre Company, just finished a two-week residency in the 150-seat theater.
Wood said crowds were modest, but friendly and supportive of the new venue. Along with his wife, Deborah, Wood said his goal is to create an accessible space for all types of shows, from cabaret and comedy to singer-songwriter performances and music recitals.
He said he expects to lose money during the first two years, but he’s OK with that.
“We hope to really create a theatrical legacy here in Carmel of a place where anybody can go and put on a show,” Wood said.
John Clair, chairman of the board for the Carmel Theatre Company, said the size, location and timing of The Cat’s opening were perfect for the “Side by Side by Sondheim” show.
“The idea of having this space for theater in the Carmel Arts & Design District just fit,” Clair said. “When The Cat became available, we snapped it up.”
He said the seating flexibility—the 10 rows of seats are not nailed to the floor and can be adjusted for crowd size—was a big draw. The “Side by Side by Sondheim” performances utilized just 50 seats for a more intimate setting.
The Cat is named in part for Wood’s…