Calumet Theatre honors long-time patron

Photo courtesy of Dan Jamison Technical Director Reece White stands in the recently cleaned out Red Jacket Ballroom balcony that is being restored to its original beauty in memory of Janet Locatelli.

CALUMET — The Calumet Theatre Company has begun the restoration of the orchestra balcony in the Red Jacket Ballroom on the second floor of the Calumet Village Hall.

The balcony is located at the rear of the hall above what is now the kitchen area of the ball room, which was referred to in the original plans as the Community Hall.

During a recent Calumet Theatre fundraising gala, patrons and performers at the event received a firsthand view of the newly restored balcony of the ballroom, Dan Jamison, President of the Calumet Theatre Company, said.

“The restoration was done in honor of the support, participation, patronage, commitment and bequest of Janet Locatelli, a long-time Theatre member, who was also a member of the Board of Directors for several years.

Locatelli’s sister-in-law, Phyllis, said that Janet was involved with the Calumet Theatre on many levels for several decades, including serving on the Board of Directors for many years.

Locatelli had a deep passion for music and the arts, which included her love for the Calumet Theatre, Phyllis said. Though she was afflicted with polio in 1950, when she was just 14 years old, she did not allow mobility challenges to hinder her.

“Janet attended most of the theater’s events, doing so with a brace on each leg and a crutch on each arm,” Phyllis said. “She had a favorite seat in a certain row that accommodated her mobility issues. Janet had an appreciation for the beauty of the building, its acoustics, and the historical importance in the community.”

Janet advocated for music from years past, especially big bands and jazz concerts, Phyllis said. Janet rarely missed a local play or high school band concert. She always enjoyed the (Duquesne University Tamburitzans) and Joe Kirkish’s classic movies at Club Indigo.

Jamison echoed Phyllis’ sentiments and shares her admiration for Janet.

“Janet Locatelli was a tireless supporter of the Calumet Theatre,” Jamison said. “She participated on the Board of Directors, she worked around the theater with various projects, and even after she passed she remembered the Theatre financially, so that we could continue her work.”

Jamison said restoration work on the balcony began on October 28, the week before the Gala, which included converting it back from its having been turned into a storage closet.

“We removed all of the shelving, all of the plywood that closed it off from the front, and we put the chairs back where they had been many years ago,” Jamison said. “Those are the original chairs to the balcony.”

As the restoration work continues, the walls enclosing the three sides of the balcony will be returned to the dark Olive Green that adorned the walls in 1886.

A member of the Board recently uncovered the original color of the walls of the Ballroom, including a dark Olive Green, which was verified in a Historic American Building Survey conducted by the National Park Service in 1975: “The colors specified were to be a medium Tuscan red, a very dark olive green, a rubbed coach black, and gold on the enrichments,” the survey report states. “Obviously, this was to be a building of some distinction.”


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