The Cabot in Beverly will be engaging in some funny business come March. The renowned institution is planning to open a new comedy club in a small theater just around the corner from its current historic theater. The new venue, dubbed Off Cabot, will be located at 9 Wallis Street and will feature a lineup of notable regional performers as well as up-and-coming comics.
The lineup will kick off on March 19 with a show featuring veteran Boston comedian and actor Tony V. alongside comics Corey Rodrigues and Laura Severse. The following weeks will include appearances by comics including Paul Mecurio, Erica Rhodes, Jimmy Dunn, Mike Paramore, Emma Willman, and more. A complete schedule will be available and tickets will go on sale on Feb. 18 at offcabot.org.
It’s an enterprise that will be able to help nurture new talent, boost the economy in Beverly, and provide audience members a much-needed escape, says J. Casey Soward, executive director of The Cabot. “It’s been really hard for people for the last two years and comedy is a great way to get some relief from that,” he says.
Off Cabot is a collaboration between The Cabot and John Tobin Presents, a live comedy production company that brings notable comics, like local favorite Jimmy Tingle and Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows, to stages around Massachusetts and in other states. The Cabot and John Tobin Presents have worked together for years to bring comedy shows to The Cabot theater, but this new venture will allow the two to solidify and expand this partnership.
The club will have 120 seats, creating a smaller, more intimate environment than 800-seat The Cabot or its neighbor the Larcom Theatre, which has 600 seats. The focus will be on comedy, but Off Cabot is also likely to host other kinds of performances such as drag shows, Soward says.
The new venture could bring as many as 30,000 people into downtown Beverly each year, creating as much as $2 million in economic impact for the city, he estimates.
“That’s a pretty cool thing,” he says.
The Cabot Theatre first opened in 1920 as a venue for vaudeville shows and silent films. It was a so-called “dream palace,” with a large auditorium, soaring ceilings, sprawling murals, and an elaborately carved proscenium arch and trim. In the 1940s it became exclusively a cinema, which continued operation until 1976, when it was taken over by Le Grand David magic company.
The magic troupe performed its spectacular shows at the theater and at the Larcom for more than 30 years, earning it the world record for longest-running magic show. In fact, Le Grand David once owned the space at 9 Wallis Street, using it as a lobby for its Larcom performances.
When Le Grand David closed up shop in 2012, the theater stood vacant for a while before a group of investors bought the property and formed The Cabot, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring the theater – one of just 250 dream palaces remaining in the country – and bringing the performance arts back to the space.
Today The Cabot is known as a beautiful venue for musical performances from classic favorites, cover bands, and contemporary artists. The theater also puts on film screenings, comedy shows, and children’s performances.
Off Cabot, 9 Wallis St., Beverly, offcabot.org.