SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — One night could be a stand-up comic. Another may boost a local cover band. The next might carry an adults-only burlesque show, while the following afternoon hosts an after-school theater program.
“It could be a drag show, it could be a children’s show, film, Broadway stars,” John Paul Lacap said, standing in Salisbury’s City Center building. “Basically our motto is: If it can fit on the stage, we’re going to present it.”
Coated in dust, concrete floors under Lacap’s steps were far from ready for their cabaret seating and capacity over 100. He meandered around construction equipment, wires and spare wooden pieces as he described how one downtown performance venue will come to life.
“Revival,” perched on a third floor overlooking Main Street, plans to bring a diverse lineup of high-caliber entertainment, alongside a full menu of food and drinks. A vision taking shape since roughly fall 2019, the venue plans to see a grand opening by early August.
The rest might be an experiment.
“We were just excited. We saw the opportunity,” said the marketing director with Premier Center for the Arts Productions. “We think having this venue will really work well for Salisbury.”
The city’s mayor agrees.
“A diversity of options in terms of activity and entertainment is important to a thriving city center,” said Salisbury Mayor Jake Day. “I think about more than just the things that have succeeded. There are things that don’t exist that I want, and that we need in the center of the city.
“And one of those is entertainment options.”
Lacap said the venture’s start will focus on loading the schedule with a wide array of shows, acts and events — working to define the original style of both revival and the city itself.
“The first few months, we’ll be trying to get a feel of what people in Salisbury will be interested in,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be experimentation.”
COOKING UP A UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
Lacap knows this experiment comes with a strong control group.
The Milton Theatre, sharing the same parent company, has a vibrant history as a staple and historic piece of southern Delaware, now offering hundreds of shows each year and surviving a pandemic stall.
“Same concept, but we want it to be separate,” Lacap said. “We want the same level of entertainment, quality entertainment that you would see in a larger city — Washington D.C.; New York; Philadelphia — but you don’t have to travel that far.”
There’s another facet setting revival apart: a full kitchen.
“I know we’re doing shows, but if I could have impact on people with the menu, that’s my goal,” said Mangus Steed, laughing lightly over the phone. “My goal is to have people especially come back for the food.”
The general manger for revival’s kitchen and full-bar experience is crafting his own menu for the first time. He’ll look to combine both years of restaurant experience, from Rehoboth Beach to Lewes, as well as his childhood memories.
His food upbringing focused on Thai-Asian fusions, as Steed put it. His grandparents and family operated their own restaurant. From there, working in restaurants through college at Delaware’s beaches, the budding chef dove into more gourmet and comfort food.
“My plan with our food is to tackle everything I’ve learned, and basically to tackle the senses that the human palate really craves, while keeping it as simple as possible,” Steed said, pulling up a draft menu as he spoke. “I want to combine a balance of food that is comforting as well as delicate.”
Steed sees his first months as time to experiment, aiming to consistently offer something new. He never wants his menu to stick to one style.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this,” he said, “where I can just introduce different foods to people.”
Steed also plans to see his fare complement shows filling the Salisbury venue, when possible, whether it’s a new dish or a specialty cocktail.
“People are coming to watch the show,” he said. “So I’ve got to work extra hard to make the food as appealing to them as the environment is.”
That environment is set to host slightly tiered levels of table seating with four to six chairs each, centered around the lifted-stage focal point. Painted murals are envisioned for designated wall space, while exposed metal beams and restored concrete floors will stick around to deliver the “steampunk” interior design.
But the new Main Street fixture wants to do more than standout.
“The idea of venues, usually, is to generate synergy for a downtown,” Lacap said, back in the buzzing remodel. “So our goal is, once the theater opens, it generates foot traffic for everyone.”
Invited guests will get a sneak peak during a soft opening planned for mid-July, allowing staff to work out any kinks or updates before an August grand opening.
From there, the experiment continues.
“We’re not going to deviate from the fact that there’s going to be something for everyone here,” Lacap said. “For all ages, all demographics, all cultures, all backgrounds — we’re going to have it.”