WESTPORT - The 2010 repertory season at the Depot Theatre opens this weekend, and as it does, the theatre is moving further into the 21st century.
July 9 marks the opening night for "What a Wonderful Feeling," the first of five productions the nonprofit, professional theatre company will be bringing to its stage, housed in a restored 1876 train depot, this summer and fall.
But the entertainment isn't the only novel feature this season. This 130-year-old building is now using some up-to-date technology to reach new audiences.
The theatre has expanded its presence on the Internet with a redesigned Web site, a new blog, a fan page on Facebook, a Twitter account, and most importantly, on-line sales capability.
"For the last 30 years, patrons have been limited to our box office hours, which have changed from season to season depending on staff and budget," said managing director Chris Casquilho. "We've finally pulled together the capacity to take advantage of the leaps in technology so you can book tickets anywhere you can get the Internet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether someone is here to answer the phone or not."
Visitors to the Web site can pay for tickets on-line and print them at home. Users can also order subscriptions, make donations, and register for events on the site. Casquilho said the new options save paper, stamps, and time for everyone.
The theatre's new blog offers behind-the-scenes information about the Depot productions, and the Facebook and Twitter accounts are used to broadcast the information to a wider, more involved audience, allowing fans to interact by posting reviews and comments about the productions.
Casquilho says the Depot has also used Facebook to raise some money for the theatre's programs.
"We have a couple of kitties that keep the mice under control, and they had some medical expenses," he said. "We put the call out on Facebook and raised a couple hundred dollars to pay for it."
He said the Facebook page has also helped raise more than $200 for the Depot's Shakespeare-in-the-Park program - a free summer program for youth.
"For community-based organizations with little or no money for marketing, it's essential to take advantage of these tools," said Casquilho; "they're free!"
Casquilho has given seminars on social media for arts organizations and has offered to advise any nonprofit or community groups with questions about how to use on-line social media to promote their missions. He can be contacted by calling 962-8680.
"I can't build your Web site, but I can show you how to get your blog published to your Facebook account, and things like that," he said.
As it has in recent seasons, the Depot Theatre will continue to offer "Name Your Price Night" for the first Monday evening performance of each production, allowing patrons to see the show for whatever price they're willing to pay. The first is July 12.
More information, including a complete schedule, ticket prices and description of 2010 productions at the Depot Theatre, can be obtained at www.depottheatre.org or by calling 962-4449.