Lori Merritt was born and raised in Norwalk. One of her fond memories of growing up, she said, was the Towne and Country Theatre.
She has a dream. She would like to bring life back to the old building and make it a place where people want to come once again.
“I see this theater being what it used to be when I was a kid,” Merritt said Thursday afternoon. “I remember when they had the ‘Sound of Music’ and “The Passion’ here.
“I don’t see why it can’t be that way again.”
Lori and her husband, Steve, are the new managers of the Norwalk Theater. Owners Steve and Teresa LaFountain live in Michigan and have been looking for somebody local to run the operation.
“We love it,” Steve Merritt said. “My wife is originally from Norwalk and I remember driving by it all of the time. We saw it was for sale on eBay and called the owners.
“We told them if they didn’t sell it, we would like to manage it.
“Lori has big, big plans for it. We have a battle of the bands May 19 and we hope to have over 300 teenagers here for that. We would like to have something going on every weekend or every other weekend. This summer Lori is planning on having a drama camp.”
The North Fairfield couple would have have preferred buying the theater, but said this is the next best thing. “If we can help them (the LaFountains) become successful we will be happy.
“Lori would like to restore this to its old glory,” Steve said. “We would like have something for every age group ... events where parents would feel safe dropping their kids off.”
The North Fairfield couple have a background in the business. Both are involved with the Firelands Symphony Orchestra, while Lori is a music and drama teacher at Huron Montessori School.
“My biggest dream would be to acquire the house next door to the theater to be used as a hub of arts in the area,” she said. “I would love to be able to teach music out of that building.”
Steve is a substitute teacher and is planning on launching his own consulting company soon. Also, he is set to join the National Guard in Springfield where he will serve as a chaplain when his outfit goes to Iraq.
The couple have three children — Lauren, 14, Emily, 10, and Samuel, 5.