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The Cabot’s inaugural Big Night concert, party, and fundraising event was a resounding success last month, raising more than $800,000 to go toward renovations that will modernize the venerable theater and make it more accessible to visitors with physical limitations.

The April 14 event featured Tedeschi Trucks Fireside Live and legendary R&B and gospel singer Mavis Staples, a pair of performances that blew away the audience, says The Cabot’s executive director J. Casey Soward.

Tedeschi Trucks is “probably the best band that’s ever played on that stage,” he says, and Staples “just burned the house down with her performance.”

“From start to finish it was an incredible show,” Soward says.

The money raised will be used to install a limited use/limited access elevator to transport
patrons, staff, and artists between the street-level lobby, balcony lobby, and artist green rooms and office space. The project will include significant masonry, carpentry, and electrical work to prepare the 100-year-old building to accommodate an elevator.

“That project is going to be a game-changer for the Cabot,” Soward says.

The elevator installation is just one part of a multi-year $9.5 million capital campaign aimed at renovating the historic theater inside and out. In May 2021, the theater unveiled extensive lobby renovations including a complete restoration of the vaulted ceiling, renovation of its box office and concessions area, and restoration of the original chandelier.

The Cabot was opened in 1920 as a “dream palace,” a luxurious venue for vaudeville performances and move screenings. It remained a movie theater until 1976, when Le Grand David and His Own Spectacular Magic Company bought the building as a venue to stage its fantastical magic shows. After Le Grand David wound down in 2013, a nonprofit was formed to acquire the theater, restore it to its former glory, and establish a venue for music, comedy, and music in downtown Beverly.

After last month’s initial success, Soward hopes the Big Night event will become a staple of North Shore cultural life.

“We’re already talking about next year,” he says. “It’s a brand we want to build – we want to have the biggest bash on the North Shore every year.”