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RAPA Taking Over Kodak's Theatre on the Ridge

The underutilized theatre will have new life under the arrangement.
The Rochester Association of Performing Arts has signed a long term lease for Kodak's Theatre on the Ridge. The move represents a major expansion for RAPA and helps Kodak unload excess space.

"I think it's a hidden treasure of Rochester," said RAPA Board President Jim Vollersten. "It's something that it would have been a shame to have it go away."

The 1,964-seat Theatre on the Ridge was built in 1958 in Kodak's Building 28. The building was Kodak's center of recreation. There are long-shuttered cafeterias. There was also a bowling alley, gym, fitness center and shooting range. There's even a pool on the 5th floor that was never filled with water. It now serves as a running track. 
 
The company had a theater club, known as the Kodactors. 

"They had a full staff on hand where most of the props and scenery were built by in-house individuals," said Bob Mikicuik, an audio-visual specialist who used to work for Kodak, but is now a contractor. "At one point in time during the time I was here, we had a full-blown circus onstage with seven lions being housed here in the building, three elephants. It was very interesting because we used to have a full complement of participants in the cafeteria and you can hear the lions roaring and people in the cafeteria were thinking they were imagining things."

RAPA plans to continue to use its existing facilities. Theatre on the Ridge offers a chance to put on large productions. Everything a theatre group needs is right inside the complex, including dressing rooms and rehearsal space.

Kodak had a surprise for RAPA. In a dark basement room of Building 28 sits a replica of the George Eastman star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The replica star was installed in front of the former Kodak Theatre in Hollywood in 2002. It's now called the Dolby Theatre. When the company's name was removed from the theater, the star was shipped to Kodak's offices in Rochester. The Walk of Fame group says Kodak requested the star. The replica star will be installed in front of Building 28 for a Rochester Walk of Fame.

Eastman still has another star on the Walk of Fame that was installed in 1960. 

RAPA and Kodak will announce more details of the arrangement later this week or early next week. RAPA hopes to offer the space to other groups.

"It's a multi-purpose facility which has served the community and Kodak very in the past and hopefully it will continue on in this facility," said Mikicuik.

"The main purpose that we see is to make this into a true community asset," said Vollersten.

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