Change is afoot for the theater landscape of San Antonio. After a decade of musical theater productions in its Deco District home, the Woodlawn Theatre company is moving to a new location, in a new city, with a new name pending.
In an announcement to media about the move, the theater’s executive and artistic director Christopher Rodriguez said, “Change is never easy, but we are eager and excited about the challenge.”
Woodlawn staff recognized a need to accommodate its burgeoning educational programming, which Rodriguez said is “bursting at the seams,” and gained a new sense of mobility for its expanded outreach programs during the coronavirus pandemic. The combination led to conversations with representatives of Wonderland of the Americas about the former Santikos Bijou theater space, which shut down operations in March.
The yet-to-be-renamed theater is set to open in early 2023.
Balcones Heights Mayor Suzanne de Leon said, “We’re very excited about it. From the very first time that we heard about their desire to move into the Bijou … we thought this would be a great addition to Balcones Heights.”
De Leon is a longtime fan of Woodlawn Theatre productions. She said limited parking in the Fredericksburg Road area will no longer be an issue with spacious parking lots at Wonderland of the Americas, which she said no longer bills itself as a mall.
“It’s really not a mall anymore,” De Leon said. “It’s more of a mixed-use development,” with medical and VA clinics, other nonprofit organizations, and retail including a Dave & Buster’s arcade occupying the upper floor.
De Leon said an additional benefit for the theater is that parents will have plenty to do within the former mall while their kids are busy with Leg Up performance classes, Woodlawn Theatre Academy summer camps and other youth programs.
Rodriguez said the new location will help the yet-to-be-renamed theater flourish in all of its programming, including the schedule of live, full-scale musical productions Woodlawn has produced since 2012.
The name change is necessary, Rodriguez said, in part to honor the Woodlawn Theatre building, which he noted has housed a variety of entertainment companies over its 77-year history, and to avoid any future confusion that might arise should another theater company take over the space.
De Leon said that Woodlawn will take over the former Bijou concession area and two of its six theaters, and hinted that Wonderland’s newest tenant might soon have company.
“There’s some negotiations going on, but nothing is set in stone yet,” she said.