WILMINGTON — Over 70 years ago, the Manor Theatre opened at 208 Market Street in downtown Wilmington. Since then it has gone by many names, “The Rox,” “Ziggy’s by the Sea,” and most recently, the “Throne Theater.” Now, owner Damian Brezinski is taking it back to basics, re-branding and overhauling the music hall into the “Blue Eyed Muse.” A venue that he feels pays homage to the music halls historic past.
“Originally, this was the Manor on Market, opened in 1943. We really wanted to capture the spirit of what the original Manor was,” Brezinski said. “We actually thought about re-naming it The Manor, but that kind of seemed a little too mellow for us so we went with the ‘Muse,’ and it really seems to be a fitting name at this point.”
Brezinski says that his main goal with the re-branding, was to perfect the sound quality of the venue.
“We went to change the façade first and make that exactly right, because that’s sort of your front entrance presentation, then we took everything down to bare brick again, mostly for sound purposes,” Brezinski said. “I’ve been really obsessive about the sound, we want this to be the best sounding room that it possibly could, and I think we’ve achieved that.”
After stripping the paint from the brick, they moved on to the steel poles, which had 16 layers of paint on them, and took two weeks to strip down. From there, he had all the excess rigging attached to the ceiling removed, allowing the sound to flow more freely throughout the room.
All new electronics and sound boards have been brought in, and they even put in a new high-quality stage. The challenge was, removing all of the old stages piece by piece.
“The top stage was from the late 90s, so we tore that up, then under there was another stage from the 80s we had to tear out. Then, and I’m not even kidding, underneath that we found a light up disco stage from the 70s,” he said with a laugh. “Then there was yet another stage underneath that, and finally we got down to the original stage which was oak, and it was not moving so we literally had to jack hammer it out.”
Brezinski says over the years, he himself has played the venue many times with various bands. But when “The Wailers” played the Muse’s grand opening Wednesday night, it was the most pristine sound he’d ever heard in the room.
A whole new venue
Another of Brezinski’s goals was to repair what he feels was a bad rep held by the Throne. For a long time, he says that there was a running joke among bands that the venue had the worst green rooms in the south.
“All the green rooms for all of the artists have been renovated,” he said. “We worked very, very hard to make it much more user friendly to all of our artists so they’ll feel at home when they come here.”
In addition to the green rooms, the second story of the venue has been completely renovated. Brezinski calls it “the owner’s booth,” and holds some of the best seats in the house.
“We improved site lines on the second floor, and I think this is the best spot in the house,” he said. “You don’t want to dilute the experience if you show up 10 minutes late and get stuck back off the rail, now you can see no matter where you are.”
But, the thing Brezinski says he’s most proud of, is the new, intimate concert venue, tucked at the back of the second floor.
“We’ve got the audio so perfect, and when you get here you’ll want to do this, when you walk up these stairs we actually have a 9.5 decibel drop off from the speakers,” Brezinski said. “So, you’ll literally go from a full concert experience to a place where you can have a conversation.”
Brezinski also wants this new venue to be the home of local music in Wilmington. Currently, they’re hosting a local singer songwriter performance night every Wednesday, and want to invite anyone and everyone, no matter your talent level or chosen genre, to come out and feel like they can really be themselves.
The Blue Eyed Muse
“I took it (the venue) over officially on Jan. 1, then it took us a solid three months to get it to a point where we were functional,” Brezinski said. “I told them we weren’t re-naming it until I was completely happy with it, and I wasn’t happy until Wednesday.”
Brezinski said that just like the old Manor, he wants people to feel welcome every night of the week, no matter what’s going on. Whether you’re bringing your family out for a magic show, or taking a date to a concert, he says that this will be safe and fun environment for everyone.
“It was really predicated on the fact that, I’m the owner. For better or worse it’s my name on it. So, if that’s the case, then I don’t want to put my name on something that I’m not proud of,” he said. “At this point it’s the ‘Blue Eyed Muse,’ something that I am very proud of. So many people put in so much effort to get it to this point, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s turned out.”
The Muse kicks off it’s inaugural weekend with “Band of Heathens” and “L-Shaped Lot” Friday night, followed by the “Old 97’s” on Saturday.
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