By Flash Steinbeiser
A gaggle of schoolchildren and adults flood the Red House Café’s hardwood floors during a break from rehearsing The Wiz in the neighboring theater. They sit on vibrant red chairs while clutching sheet music and annotated scripts. Laughs and chatter drown out Guster’s “Careful,” which hums from the speakers above.
Pleasant interruptions like this are normal at the café, which opened in early November as an expansion of the Red House Theater and Gallery. During gallery hours and production nights at the theater, the café links all of Red House’s artistic offerings. Patrons can get caught behind the scenes of plays, or they can admire the gallery art adorning the café’s interior. Posters for The Wiz and other upcoming acts decorate the wood-paneled walls, and empty frames hang about a foot in front of them.
The space itself is practically a theater. The long, narrow room resembles a makeshift runway, with mustard-yellow wood tables lining the walls. The Red House moved their long-standing comedy improv classes and drag shows from the stage into the café to increase the intimacy between the audience and performers. “It’s a level that can’t be reached with the barrier of an actual stage,” says Sasha Batrosky, the Red House’s Director of Audience Outreach.
With plenty of seating and tables throughout, the Red House Café also plays the part of a community center, offering various social activities like pumpkin-carving, mosaic-crafting, and film-making lessons from the Red House’s staff. Batrosky says “study hall” nights, with endless cups of coffee, might soon become a café fixture.
The café specializes in crepes, offering a myriad of both sweet and savory choices like turkey, cheese, or mixed berries. Batrosky says the café will tie into the Red House Theater’s latest productions with themed menu items, wines, and decorations. They celebrated their last show, Batboy: The Musical, with spider-webs, pumpkins, and bright orange lights. She says, “You should feel like you’re involved in the excitement and the feeling of the play when you walk in.”