Park life springs anew

Old city theater welcomes Spectacle Live partnership

Posted 5/29/24

Special to the Herald

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the last thing you should ever do is count Ed Brady down and out.

Brady has worked tirelessly to keep the Park Theater afloat and …

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Park life springs anew

Old city theater welcomes Spectacle Live partnership


Special to the Herald

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, the last thing you should ever do is count Ed Brady down and out.

Brady has worked tirelessly to keep the Park Theater afloat and a beacon for the arts in his beloved Cranston.

When Brady and his business partner Jeff Quinlan took over the theater in late 2021, they poured hundreds of thousands of their money into renovating and bringing the building up to code and into the 21st Century.

“Jeff is not originally from Cranston,” Brady said. “He did not invest in this project because he had a passion for theatre or saw it being profitable immediately. He supported me and the passion I have for Cranston and we both still believe we can make it sustainable with the support of our community ahead and the new team at Spectacle Live.”

Brady fully acknowledges that he still has some debts to pay, both to creditors and supportive patrons.

“I always believe in being honest, vulnerable and authentic,” Brady said. “I have been writing and am still writing personal letters and reimbursement checks to everyone who was affected by our shows that were forced to be canceled last summer and fall. I truly went all-in on saving the building for the community we live in and love and I will continue to rectify each and every situation.”

Brady says he is indebted in several ways to the previous Park Theater owner.

“Our mortgage holder Pi Patel has been very gracious in our continued ongoing discussions,” Brady explained. “He has invested millions of dollars to protect our community theatre since he acquired it in 2001.”

In the past, there have been stories of reported structural problems. Brady was eager to set the record straight.

"We had multiple AC units go down and we did not find the building to be safe for operations,” he said. “Damage had occurred in the past when the gutters backed up in a rain storm. Unfortunately, at the time, that was not covered by grants, but we were able to fight to reopen.”

Brady insists there are no current structural defects at the aging theater. He also addressed other rumors about the theater.

“City Taxes are currently rectified,” Brady said. “This historic building drives massive economic development to Cranston and its surrounding businesses. It will be the anchor for the arts and innovation district ahead.”

Brady has clearly made no secret of his frustration with being able to access funding. In the past, he pointed out other communities, like Woonsocket, where voters went to bond for millions to fund the Stadium Theatre.

Taxpayers also supported $25 million for the RI Convention Center Authority last year which helped support a new roof at the Amica Center. The authority also supports PPAC, the Rhode Island Convention Center, and other entities, according to Brady.

With new energy and a partnership with Spectacle Live, the Park Theater will live on, Brady promises.

“The team at Spectacle Live will be running the theatre operations completely ahead,” he said. “They have an amazing team, and our community of Cranston truly is blessed they will be investing their money and time here.”

“Pete Lally and the team have been gracious over the last few months of negotiations and they have been very fair to allow us to get to the finish line,” Brady explained. “I am very thankful for our hard-working team over the last two years that was able to help this amazing building show proof of concept and that Cranston was worth investing in.”

Brady resigned from his seat on Cranston City Council in 2021 when “a prominent real estate developer … was looking to demolish the theatre.”

“Unfortunately, at the time, no one else was willing to step up, but I did not want to see arts and history die,” Brady added.

Brady has been a man of faith for a long time. And, in that faith, he said he has found the strength to carry on.

“My faith has grown exponentially through this process as God continues to provide positive paths,” Brady said. “I am thankful to continue to have a positive support system around me in my family and friendships. I never gave up hope as dark as it got because of that support system and my faith in God.”

Brady's message of community has never wavered or been darkened, he says. He talks constantly of the necessity of community support ahead. All the positive work in the world can be done, but the community needs to continue to step up and support each other.

According to Brady, the people of Cranston need to protect arts and innovation for the future of the community and our children.

Brady is still working on finding supporters and a building naming-rights supporter. He’s searching for “the right synergistic partners” and “fielding proposals that align with growing” the Cranston community.

“We have a few active discussions going,” Brady said. “I would love to see nonprofits, educational partners, music, or arts partners in an ideal world. Cranston East is building a career and tech school, so it would be a wonderful partnership in the future also to work with those students.”

Long-term friends and supporters of the Park Theater, Todd and Holly Mulholland, of Cranston, shared their opinions, ideas and hopes for the theater.

“In our ever-changing world of technology, we are spending an enormous amount of time in front of screens,” Todd Mulholland said. “With that, Holly and I believe the performing arts are more important than ever.”

As a life long Cranstonian, the Park Theater is a place he has experienced many firsts. He saw his first movie there, and it was the first and only place he ever saw a movie with his mother and father (they watched Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. He had his very first date at The Park Theater. 

"The very first show at The Park Theater after Mr. Patel completed his beautiful renovations was the play ‘A Christmas Carol’ in which our youngest son Ethan played Peter Cratchit,” Todd Mulholland said.

He’s also a local grassroots filmmaker. 

“We have been blessed to have had our last two movies premiere at The Park Theater,” he said. “Both movies, ‘Reciprocity’ and ‘The Author’ premiered to a packed house, which the theater handled spectacularly with all of its beauty, grace and elegance.”

The filmmakers say they’ve received an enormous number of compliments following their premieres at the Park Theater.

“When the theater put out a call for ushers my wife and I jumped at the chance,” Mulholland said. “It has been one of the best things we have ever done in our 40 years together. We absolutely love seeing many of our friends attending shows and seeing their faces light up when walk into the theater, many for the first time since they were kids.”

Their favorite reason for loving the Park so much is its owner.

“Becoming an usher has given us a chance to get to know Ed Brady,” the couple said. “He is truly a remarkable person and entrepreneur. His passion for the Cranston community and its arts is genuine.  He and his team are the only ones who stepped up to help save our beloved theater, an incredible difficult and challenging task. Holly and I will forever be grateful to Ed and his team for saving our city’s  beautiful landmark.”

The new partners, out of Massachusetts, are working hard on getting everything in order for a new season.

“Spectacle Live is excited to have a contract in place for the Park Theatre to join our roster of managed venues, which also includes Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Nashua Center for the Arts, and the Colonial Theatre of Laconia,” said Dan Berube, Director of Marketing for Spectacle Live. “Stay tuned for news about our venue management team and upcoming performances.”

Spectacle Live works with more than a dozen New England venues on facility management, promoting, marketing, and producing hundreds of concerts, comedy, civic, educational, theatrical, and family entertainment events annually.

Spectacle Live has also been a valuable consulting partner to municipalities and nonprofit venue owners, developers, programmers, and operators. Now, with more than 11 regional theaters in their portfolio, the organization released a statement, saying they are “very excited to have their team join our Cranston community starting this fall.”

 For more information on Spectacle Live, visit their website,


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