- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 11, 2003

"A burned-out building with elevators that don't work, no heat and no bathroom," an ecstatic Joy Zinoman touted Saturday as she described the gutted site of Studio Theatre's 25th-anniversary gala termed, realistically enough, a "party in the raw."
That was before the theater's founding artistic director and her staff got to work dressing up the place with stage lights, flowers, gas heat blowers, a disco ball and hard hats for waiters to wear with their tuxedos. Port-o-Sans were installed on the first floor, and stoves were imported by Design Cuisine to prepare a three-course meal on two upper floors of what once was the Ace Electric Supply building at 1509 14th St. NW.
Come June, the building will begin its transformation as one of two new spaces Studio has acquired for its $9.5 million expansion. (Two-thirds of the funding has been raised.) In 14 months' time, four theaters will be in operation.
Most of the construction will be interior work, project architect William Bonstra explained. The low-cost design "is a lot like what the existing theater is about," he said. "It will carry the same aesthetic: an industrial component softened with wood finishes."
As for sums yet to be raised, "only an M need apply," longtime arts enthusiast Gilbert Mead joked. Studio's current two stages are named the Mead for Gilbert and Jaylee Mead and the Milton, for Fenner and Ina Milton, four of the theater's most generous benefactors.
"It's not a neighborhood theater anymore," commented one of the 350 guests who had paid $300 apiece to dine and dance in cement-wall caverns transformed for the night into a smart, swinging boite. A martini bar and lounge with a live cabaret named for gala chairwoman Liz Cullen were set up on the second floor after dinner; dancing and a disc jockey livened the first.
"A toast to 25 years and to a new beginning," Mrs. Zinoman said in a champagne toast that preceded a rich chocolate cake decorated with Studio's zinging logo in white chocolate. The buzz in the room was so high by then that the notably commanding founding director had to beg for attention. "No one has ever said they couldn't hear me before," she told amused supporters cheering her on.
"Hope to see you at the groundbreaking in June," she called out merrily.
Ann Geracimos

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