The popular melodrama theater company announced it will open its newly renovated theater on Elm Street in Carrollton on Friday, Nov. 25, starting with a month-long run of its annual holiday musical Ebenezer Scrooge, written by theater founder Joe Dickinson.
"It's been an experience," says Nick Haley, one of the theater's partners, who took over for co-founder Rodney Dobbs following his retirement in 2021. "Certainly, it's new for all of us since our last place. We were there for 30-some-odd years and with the supply chain issues and everything, it's definitely been a learning experience — but we've gotten to a point where we're confident that we can put on Scrooge."
The owners of Pocket Sandwich Theatre's last location on Mockingbird Lane in Dallas decided not to extend its lease in July 2021. Just shy of its 41st anniversary, the theater company was forced to move out by the end of the year. Pocket Sandwich found its new Carrollton location the following December and started the long process of moving and renovating it into a theater space.
The theater originally planned to open last summer with its Captain Blood pirate melodrama, but supply chain issues forced it to move the opening date to Halloween with its Dracula show. More issues forced a another move of the opening date to the holidays with Ebenezer Scrooge, the same show that closed the old space in December 2021.
Haley says the group will go ahead with a run of Dracula starting on New Year's Eve, "Since we've already rehearsed it and we've got the show ready to go."
There are still some finishing touches to make the space a new home for Pocket Sandwich's patient and devoted fans.
"We went through painstaking efforts to make it as familiar as a set-up with several benefits and improvements behind the scenes," Haley says. "There's more storage space, more backstage space for the actors. There's not a bad seat in the house."
"We went through painstaking efforts to make it as familiar as a set-up with several benefits and improvements behind the scenes." – Pocket Sandwich Theatre's Nick Haley
Some of the creature comforts that made the original space so memorable will return in the Carrollton theater. One of these is the famous "Lucy" statue of the football-yanking character from Charles Schulz's Peanuts, which holds the ashes of founder Joe Dickinson and other devoted performers and writers who've died since the theater was founded.
The one item fans have asked about the most is Bruce the Moose, the giant stuffed moose head that hung over the rear wall of the Mockingbird Lane location surrounded by photos of the theater's many performers and writers.
"He will be back," Haley says of Bruce. "We have not yet determined where he's going to go but we couldn't envision the theater space without his droopy moose face hanging over us."
Haley says the theater company and staff are confident that their decision to move to downtown Carrollton will pay off.
"We fit," Haley says. "We feel like we just fit. The space itself, a lot of good work has gone into it."
He also says he's confident the fans will take to the new space with the same love and devotion that kept them going for 41 years.
"We've had a lot of conversations and we even asked patrons what they thought," Haley says. "The vast majority of the response we got was that Carrolton is a little closer and it's more centralized in the metroplex. There's a lot of excitement about it. They're excited. I think they're as excited as we are."