Elliott has turned a once-vacant space next to the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts into a rehearsal space, a 70-seat theater and an art gallery. Open since October, the E Gallery and Performance Annex has given Elliott another hands-on role in the local art world and has enhanced the artistic offerings at the Grand.
“Since he took the space over, he’s helped us out more,” said Jeffrey Haskett, the Grand Theatre’s technical supervisor. “He’s increased the arts and appreciation in Tracy, and he’s doing that through his own operation, which is great. … If we want to continue to grow our audience, having another performance space is great.”
Tickets to the annex are sold at the Grand Theatre’s box office. And the gallery, which is run by Elliott, serves as another space for artists to show their work, along with the Grand’s two main galleries.
“I happened to know the space next to the Grand was empty and had been empty a number of years,” said Elliott, who has been a Tracy resident since 2002. “We could not have this space anywhere else in town and have it work. One of the things that it does, it brings in more foot traffic to downtown.”
Elliott had his first production at the annex with a poetic reading of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven,” and also hosted a dinner theater performance of “The Santa Clause.”
Elliott majored in theater at Indiana State University. While a student, he served as the business manager of Indiana State’s theater department. Following college, he managed a General Cinema theater in Indiana. But after relocating to California in 1978, Elliott served as a senior human resources executive for three corporations, taking a 26-year hiatus from theater.
His only theatrical connection during that time, Elliott said, was through community productions and as a patron.
Still, Elliott itched to get back into the art world, and from 2004 to 2008, he served as a Tracy arts commissioner. That led to a stint on the board of directors for the Tracy Performing Arts Foundation, where he remains a member.
In September 2007, when the Grand Theatre opened its doors, Elliott knew he would have to get involved.
“By serving (as arts commissioner) and being around for the Grand’s opening, it really awaked that passion within me,” Elliott said.
“He’s been a patron of the arts for so many years,” Haskett said. “He’s kind of dedicated some of his efforts to improve what happens at the Grand.”
Elliott not only strives to bring great theater to Tracy, he also hopes to develop strong local actors and oversees 60 actors in E Company.
“What we’re really working toward is developing an accredited acting program for (people who seek) a career in the performing arts and/or getting admitted to a performing arts college,” Elliott said.
Elliott has a packed scheduled for E Company this coming season. He’s producing “Doubt: A Parable” from Feb. 3 to 6; “At the Playground,” a world premiere by playwright Cheyenne Lu, from March 3 to 6; the rock musical “Rent,” April 14 through 17; and another mystery dinner performance on Valentine’s Day.
“His selection has been very beneficial this year,” Haskett said. “He’s bringing a large diversity to the plays.”
At a glance
• WHAT: Grand Theatre
• WHERE: 715 Central Ave.
• INFO: 831-6858 or www.atthegrand.org
• WHAT: The E Gallery and Performing Arts Annex
• WHERE: 729 Central Ave.
• INFO: 229-1020 or www.jackelliottproductions.com
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