One of York County’s biggest draws has taken another step toward becoming a world class attraction, and hopes to ultimately double its size.
NarroWay Productions recently closed on two properties, one on either side of the Christian theater on S.C. 51 near Carowinds Boulevard. The additions include the Carousel shopping center.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a world class Christian entertainment complex,” said Lora McCoy, theatre manager. “We have thousands come through here every year. We want to be able to draw hundreds of thousands.”
NarroWay brought in more than 43,000 guests in 2017. This year is on track to bring in more. Christmas shows alone can account for up to 20,000 guests. Past estimates put about 70 percent of ticket sales coming from outside York County.
The new property won’t allow for the full theater complex plan, but it’s a step. NarroWay already has the Carousel building painted. Some businesses will remain there. Others — perhaps food, a gift shop, retail — will join them and create a revenue stream NarroWay hopes to use to expand.
“Ideally we would at least double what we have right now,” McCoy said.
McCoy said she believes businesses in the Carousel center will make a great partner. The theater brings in guests from across the country. McCoy said guests often arrive many hours before shows without much knowledge of the area, or ideas on where to pass the time. McCoy said she sees complimentary businesses as a draw for those guests.
An online fundraiser set up for Giving Tuesday, earlier this month, had more than $12,000 donated over two days. That money was part of a listed $25 million goal.
Two years ago, NarroWay considered purchasing almost 19 acres across U.S. 21 for a future theater. That site didn’t work due to topographical and revenue issues. The land purchase alone would have cost an estimated $5 million.
The recent land purchases give NarroWay about five acres. McCoy said both property owners told the group in recent years that NarroWay, which currently covers about two acres, would get first crack at buying the land if they either ever sold.
“The property adjacent to us on either side actually became available the same week,” she said.
The new space will add businesses, along with space for stage animals and theater props. It isn’t a sign of immediate theater expansion.
“It is the next step in that direction,” McCoy said. “For now we’ll be staying in our current facility. It’s not like we can shut down and open a new facility.”
NarroWay began in 1996. The nonprofit group performs Christian, Broadway-style shows. NarroWay started performances in an outdoor amphitheater that once was part of the Heritage USA property run by Jim Bakker. NarroWay bought an old gambling warehouse in 2005. Performances started there, at the current site, a year later.