It all started with one too many “freezing rehearsals” in a school auditorium, says actor Ethan Bowen, 50. The Rochester-based professional actor, who has worked with a number of regional theaters — his turn as Fagin in Vermont Stage Company’s production of Oliver Twist begins this Wednesday — saw the need for a smaller, heated space for his town’s winter productions. Enter Spice Performing Arts Studio (spas), Bowen’s multipurpose venue for classes and small theatrical performances, set to open within the next two months.
The 30-by-30-foot area on South Main Street in Rochester was once a garage; it has now been renovated with radiant floor heating. Coming next: mirrors lining one side of the room, warm yellow-orange paint, curtains and moveable theater seats. The flexible setup, which can accommodate 40 to 60 people, lends itself well to the dance, yoga and martial-arts classes Bowen says will be starting later this winter. He also hopes to host music, theater productions and a variety of spoken-word performances — ranging from serial novel readings to “Piano Stories,” a combination of classical music and short tales.
SPAS got a trial run in December with “Music & Massage,” a benefit for the installation of the hardwood floor. Attendees soaked up tunes by Greg Ryan and Stephen Kiernan while receiving “minimassages” from local masseuses. “Cross-pollination of this kind is what Spice is all about,” explains Bowen.