Every day, the Tybee Post Theater gets a little closer to beginning its second life.
Constructed in 1930 as a recreational home for the military men at Fort Screven, the red brick building on Van Horn has been shuttered for 50 years. The theater just avoided the wrecking ball when the Tybee Historical Society bought it, in turn selling it to the non–profit Friends of the Tybee Theater, Inc.
The facade has been upgraded. At this writing, the lobby area — with restrooms and an all–new air conditioning system — is nearing completion.
The next phase is an electrical and A/C makeover for the auditorium itself. Then the permanent stage, lights and sound.
When all is said, done and paid for, the Tybee Post Theater will be a 250–300 seat, state–of–the–art performing arts venue. The goal is to have a permanent Certificate of Occupancy sometime in 2013.
According to Friends president Jim Kluttz, this step–by–step process was always the plan. “Where our thoughts were, and what we’ve acted on, was that it’s going to be much harder to raise the total amount of money we need on faith alone — we have to show progress,” he explains.
“So we decided that this way, we can get people in that space being used; it won’t be completely done, but it will be comfortable, and people can see what the impact is going to be.
“Because we think people will be really excited about having that as an asset on Tybee.”
The group has been busy with fundraising events, including the springtime Wine Festival, and the Jan. 1 Polar Plunge, which they took over last year.
This weekend, it’s the very first Tybee Beach Brew Fest, with more than 30 craft beers, including several making their debut, paired with food from a half dozen Tybee–area restaurants.
Friday night’s event, “Brats, Bangers & Brew,” is a national and international sausage–paired smorgasbord, unlimited, at Marlin Monroe’s.
The big spread happens Saturday, the “Grand Brew–Ha–Ha” on the Tybee Island Lighthouse grounds. Here the restaurants come into play, and there’ll be music from Sons of Bluegrass and the Jimmy Wolling Band.
This one features unlimited craft brew and local food tastings.
“Our thing is to have fun events,” Kluttz explains. “Our goal is that when you leave the event that we have, you say ‘I can’t wait till they do it next year, because it was great.’
“This is different because it’s going to be at night — but the lighthouse grounds at night are magical.”
Kluttz and his board feel it’s important to put one foot in front of the other, taking their time in getting the Tybee Post whipped into shape by avoiding going into debt.
Fundraising events like the Brew Fest will help with its day–to–day operating costs.
“If we know we’ve got the money coming in from these fundraising events,” he says, “we’ve got time to build that theater and do it right. It may take us longer to get it open, but we’re gonna keep it open.”
Once the permanent CO has been issued, he adds, “then we control the space. Obviously, we won’t have it finished on the inside, but we’ll be able to have plays, concerts and movies there, all that.”
Which brings us to the very point of the project.
Says Kluttz: “If you come to Tybee with your family in the summer ... obviously, you have the beach, but what can you do with your family on Tybee other than the beach? It’s to be used by visitors and residents alike.
“The other thing is, Savannah is becoming more and more of an entertainment town. There’s more music, more play companies. And people love to come to Tybee. If we give them more to do here, we’ll have more people come here. And this is a year–round thing; it’s not just in the busy season.”
Making the stage available for area non–profit groups to use is part of the Friends’ agenda, too.
“I don’t think we’re going to open the doors first day, everything’ll be perfect and we’re going to be making a lot of money,” Kluttz says.
“I think we’re going to have to find the audience, find what people want, economically, because it’s got to be an asset to the community.”
Tybee Beach Brew Fest
Brats, Bangers & Brew
Where: Marlin Monroe's Surfside Grill, 404 Butler Ave.
When: 6:30-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2
Music: Damon & the Sh**kickers
Tickets: $35 advance, $40 at the door
Where: Tybee Island Lighthouse, 30 Meddin Ave.
When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3
Music: Sons of Bluegrass, Jimmy Wolling Band
Tickets: $45 advance, $50 at the door
Info and tickets: tybeebeachbrewfest.com