A new team is in charge at Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
It features familiar faces working behind the scenes to bring in great shows and exciting new extras to the familiar landmark. And their efforts, they hope, will help revitalize downtown Lowell.
Lowell Management Group -- LMG, for short -- is the team's name. Headed by Pete Lally, the six-person partnership took over facility management, bookings and promotions at LMA on July 1 from Spectra, which had held the contract since 2013.
The locally based partnership also includes Dan Berube, Andrew Holden, John Chemaly, Chris Dick and Jack Lally.
The past five years at LMA were lackluster, to say the least. But the new team has big plans to energize the venue and bring audiences back.
"The LMA needed a jump-start, and Pete was the one to do it," said Chemaly, a well-known businessman and president and co-owner of Trinity Ambulance. "We're excited to help bring more life to the downtown."
"Pete's reputation in the industry is well-known," said Dick, Trinity's director of business development and marketing, and a friend of Pete Lally. "Our role is to help open doors and get sponsorships."
Returning to LMA is a homecoming for Lally and Berube, who both worked there before. Lally was marketing director from 1999 to 2013 for Mill City Management, the company founded by Terry McCarthy, Leo Creegan and the late Tom McKay, that managed the building and booked shows before Spectra.
"I've always loved this building so much," said Lally, who also runs Spectacle Management, the booking/promotion/management firm he founded in 2013 that brings shows to venues in Lexington, Plymouth, Rockport and on Cape Cod.
Berube started at LMA as a 20-year-old intern in the marketing department.
"It was my dream to have Pete's job," said Berube, director of marketing for LMG and Spectacle. "People are attached to the auditorium. It's a special place. We plan on booking great shows and filling up the building."
The other partners are Holden, the senior talent buyer for Spectacle and LMG, and Jack Lally, Pete's father, who directs finance.
The building, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary in September 2022, is in great shape, said Lally. Mill City Management renovated the roof, air conditioning, brick work and fire system. Spectra and the city replaced flooring, carpeting and seating, and improved the concourse. LMG is adding more handicapped bathrooms and expanding the back-door headroom for better access for Broadway shows.
"We'll be able to do more Broadway touring shows, which our audience wants," Lally said. "We had 'Friends' in October and have 'Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer' in December, 'Spamalot' in February and 'Stomp' in April."
Berube added, "The more shows we have, the more the excitement builds with audiences.
Creating partnerships with community groups is key to LMG. Deb Belanger directs that.
"It's exciting to work with motivated, committed people and help spur economic activity for the city of Lowell," said Belanger, former director of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Jeanne D'Arc Credit Union's new piano bar is the first partnership effort. Located on the second-floor concourse, overlooking the Hall of Flags, the piano bar opened during the recent show featuring Long Island medium Teresa Caputo and was a success. Local musician Ralph Funaro will play before every show.
"Pete always wanted a piano bar in the LMA," Belanger said. "We pitched it to JDCU, and they loved it.
"It kicks up the atmosphere," Berube said. "It's different, exciting. The music carries into the Hall of Flags."
Belanger also hopes to create a photo area with fun props for patrons to use when they come to shows.
"Taking selfies and group photos are key to marking events for people, and this will be popular," Belanger said.
Chemaly also has ideas.
"There's a lot of potential for the building," he said. "We're kicking around ideas like having a supper club to hear a crooner or jazz, or using the outside of the venue for a food-truck festival."
LMG has connected with the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses, as well, to share plans and info about shows and renovations.
"We want them to know we're more than an entertainment facility," Belanger said. "We want to be the go-to place for community events."
LMG will also honor veterans, since the LMA was built as a memorial hall to vets.
"We're working with Lowell historian Richard Howe to do a write-up on each memorial piece, inside and out," Belanger said.
And with the 100th anniversary coming in 2022, look for big festivities, including historic displays and exciting entertainment.
"We'll be planning something fabulous," Belanger promised.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is email@example.com.
What's in store
Lowell Management Group has hit the ground running and is booking more shows, in a greater variety, than have been seen there in more than five years.
Here's what's coming up.
Sunday, Nov. 4: The Answer/All Tour with Christian recording artists Jeremy Camp and Matthew West.
Thursday, Nov. 8: Ring of Honor Global Wars Tour, pro-wrestling.
Friday, Nov. 9: Dark Star Orchestra, the Grateful Dead concert experience.
Sunday, Dec. 2: "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the Musical," family-friendly holiday show.
Thursday, Dec. 6: Holiday Happy Hour at the JDCU Piano Bar (free but please register).
Saturday, Dec. 15: The Not So Silent Night Tour, featuring Phil Vassar and Lonestar, Lowell favorites in a holiday show.
Sunday, Dec. 16: Boston Pops: 2018 Holiday Pops with maestro Keith Lockhart, another perennial favorite.
Tuesday, Feb. 19" "Spamalot," the hilarious Broadway musical tribute to Monty Python.
Thursday, April 4: Experience Hendrix, a celebration of Jimi Hendrix's musical genius.
Thursday, April 11: "Stomp," the electrifying music, dance, theater extravaganza.
Visit www.lowellauditorium.com for tickets and information.