The Marionette Theatre, located on Main Street in downtown Peterborough, NH is one of the most elegant theaters in New England. It is the home of the New England Marionette Opera and hosts anywhere from 70-100 performances annually. Built in 1843, as the Peterborough Baptist Church, the theatre was transformed into a marionette theatre in 1991-92.
Painstaking care was given to preserve as much of the historical ambiance of the structure as possible. Several historical items were found behind walls, under floors and in various nooks and crannies. Most of these were donated to the Peterborough Historical Society, while others adorn the public spaces inside the theatre.
The building originally housed two shops at street level, and the church sanctuary was the entire upstairs of the building. Today, one of the shop spaces is used as the theatre box office and lobby and the other area is still rented to an outside tenant. The building has one of the largest solar panels in New England on its south wall. Heat generated from this panel has cut the theatre's winter heating bill in half.
The elegant 135-seat New England Marionette Opera theatre in Peterborough, NH
After all new interior walls were in place, the stage area complete with two 24 foot performing bridges was built. New electric service for the theatre was followed by heating and air conditioning. Cables for computerized lighting were installed along with the components for a state-of-the-art sound system, (following a recommendation of audio consultants).
Through the exact application of foreshortening the space majestically was transformed into an ideal marionette theatre. The original single-level floor was raked with each row being higher than the row immediately in front. The theatre has 100 seats on the main floor and 35 additional seats in the balcony. A control room at the rear of the theatre allows for total control of all house and stage lighting instruments, house temperature functions, sound systems, and surtitle projection.
An "orchestra pit" is a part of the home theatre and also is included with the traveling contingent as well. Following the traditional orchestral tune-up, the house maestro suddenly emerges out of the pit, takes the customary bows, raises the baton and launches into the overture for the evening.
Following six months of intense construction, 135 crushed red velvet theatre seats with teakwood arms were carefully brought in and installed just 20 hours before opening night, May 15, 1992.