It’s done!

It was a race to the finish line this past week getting all the final touches taken care of, but the renovation of the Ruth Finley Person Theater is officially complete!  Patti LaBelle’s crew has arrived to start their load-in, and our first performance will be tonight at 8pm!  You really need to come see a show in this amazing venue to experience it for yourself, but here’s a sneak peek:

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Here’s the Green Room, where artists relax before the show.After3

And here’s a glimpse of the new star dressing room!After4

And finally, here’s Patti LaBelle’s crew loading in the first show in the new theater!  Ms. LaBelle will take the stage tonight!After5

Seats: Part Two!

Progress is continuing fast & furious today.  Nearly all the seats have been installed in the balcony.Seats1

Our lobby has turned into a hub of seat assembly!Seats2

And, most recently, the first seats were installed on the main floor.  (Note: it’s only the seat backs for now.  The “seat pans” — the part you sit on — come next.)Seats3Seats4

 

Seats!!

We’re entering the homestretch of this three-month long renovation, and with that comes the installation (or re-installation) of seats!

In the balcony, the new carpet has been laid, and the seat frames have been installed.Aug8-1

The balcony seats themselves have been completely refurbished (new upholstery, new padding), and are being unpacked in the lobby right now awaiting installation.Aug8-4

Meanwhile, the BRAND NEW seats for the main floor have arrived in hundreds of boxes!Aug8-3

And crews are currently working on the main floor of the theater to finish installing the mounting system for the new seats.Aug8-2

15 Days and Counting!

As we enter the final 15 days of this renovation, there’s still a lot to do, but some exciting changes are happening this week.

First, the balcony is receiving new carpet, in preparation for the refurbished seats to be installed next week.

NewCarpet1Notice the new LED lights on the steps!NewCarpet2

And also this week, the front of the stage is being rounded out, and we are getting ready to build the stage deck up about 4 inches to improve sight lines and bring it up to grade with backstage!NewStage1

T-minus 30 Days!

We’re just 30 days away from the re-opening of the Ruth Finley Person Theater!  Here’s a look inside the renovation at some of what’s happening right now.

The new, raised ceiling over the stage is revealed!  See those paint lines on the back wall?  That shows where the old ceiling was.  With this renovation, we’re gaining about 10 feet over the stage, making it much easier to accommodate large shows with big sets, acrobatics, other complex technical elements!

30Days1The crew is busy grinding the floor to make sure everything is smooth and even, and removing old glue residue from the carpet.  Once that’s done, the floor will be polished, and we’ll start installing the new seats.

30Days2Drywall has gone up on the new balcony overhangs, and are nearly ready to be painted.  The revised overhangs create more space underneath, as well as improving sightlines for those people sitting in the balcony.  And you can also see one of our new ADA platforms, which creates much better accessibility and sightlines for our patrons in wheelchairs or with other mobility impairments.30Days3

And now that the scaffolding is down, crews are also working to frame the new, enlarged stage, which will eventually be raised several inches to bring it to the same grade as backstage and also improve sight lines for audience members.

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The scaffolding is down!

For the past two months, our stage has been covered in scaffolding reaching all the way up to the ceiling for the extensive project of adding about 10 extra feet over the stage, which will allow us to more easily accommodate large shows including more complex sets and lighting.  Piece by piece, today it all came down.  There’s obviously much more work to still be done on the stage, but without the scaffolding, you can really notice how much more open and spacious the new stage will be.  Remember, with the various changes to the stage, we’ll end up with about 300 square feet more of stage space!

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Taking Shape

While there is still a significant amount of work to be done in the next 38 (!) days before our re-opening, when walls start to go up, there is a sense that we’re closer to the finish than the start.  That’s definitely been the feeling around here the past few days as rooms and areas have started taking shape.

First, new walls were framed up.Walls1

Next came electrical and plumbing work.  (Here’s a shot looking out from the inside of the star dressing room.)Walls2

Then, of course, it was time for insulation.  Here’s a view of our new production offices.Walls3

And, most recently. . . the fun part. . . seeing dry wall go up and actually start to look like finished spaces.  Here’s those same production offices after the dry wall went up.Walls4

And here’s a look at backstage.  Remember this?  Scroll down through past blog posts to see the “before” shots.  On the right will be the kitchen, and the wide doorway in the middle is a new, direct entrance to the stage, which we didn’t have before.Walls5

Out in the auditorium, recessed lighting has been installed under the balcony, and the ceiling has been hung.Walls6

And, finally, here’s a couple shots of the front of the balcony, as it has taken shape.Walls7Walls8

 

Update: The Balcony

Dear Gentle Reader: when last you heard about the Balcony, we were in the process of ripping down the old balcony railings, which as anyone who has sat in the balcony knows, often got in the way of seeing the front of the stage. When the old facade was ripped down, all that was left was a flat, wooden front.

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This week, the crews have started rebuilding the front of the balcony.  First was to install ductwork and insulation on the side balconies.

BalconyNew2Next, the framing for a new facade was built.  Note that the new balcony facade will “drop off” much quicker than the old facade, dramatically improving sightlines for those sitting near the front of the balcony.

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Another big difference when the renovation is done is that the center balcony won’t have a protruding facade at all.  As you can see here, the side balconies are framed out, but the center balcony will be left flat except for a decorative finish that will absorb sound.  This will improve sound quality in the Theater by eliminating the reflection of sound from the stage.

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New Heights

One of the unexpected benefits of this renovation is that, by re-routing some HVAC duct work, we discovered we are able to add at least 8 feet to the height of the stage.  You may ask. . . why does that matter?  The stage already seems pretty tall, right?  Well, yes it is, but when you’re presenting live performances, especially of dance and theatre, companies commonly arrive with large set pieces or backdrops that need to hang at the rear of the stage, or even complex lighting equipment that need to go over the stage.  So, the more space you have over the stage, the more easy it is to accommodate these productions.  In the past, it was not uncommon to see large set pieces left outside that were too tall for our theater, and once we even had a dancer get caught on some lighting equipment because it was hung so low.  Everyone (especially our technical crew) is excited at the idea of being able to accommodate these large shows more easily, and present our audience with fuller, richer productions.

The first step was to build extensive scaffolding on the stage, so that workers could access the ceiling (and beyond).  Take particular notice of that large, black area of the ceiling that hangs down.  It won’t be there much longer!

CeilingBlog1The next step was to tent the entire top level of the scaffolding surrounding the ceiling, so that everything could be torn out.

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Once the old ceiling was ripped down, and the tenting removed, you could see how much more room was available above the stage, as well as all the duct work that had to be removed.

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CeilingBlog4It was a very loud day when the duct work came tumbling down. . .

CeilingBlog5As the duct work got torn out, it became easier to see that there was even more demolition to do to free up more space above the stage.

CeilingBlog6Now, as work progresses, the scaffolding continues to get higher and higher, as crews clear space and re-build the ceiling over the stage.

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A Star [Dressing Room] Is Born!

Believe it or not, for the past 32 years, we have been without a proper star dressing room backstage.  When Wynonna or Bill Cosby or Tony Bennett or anyone else has come here to perform, they have used a small dressing room that was hard to access, without a private bathroom.  This renovation will solve that problem as we are turning a section of backstage into a private, easily accessible, star dressing room with an en suite bathroom!

Here’s a view of the area backstage that will become the new star dressing room.  (It’s actually a little tough to see where the new dressing room will be, but you can imagine it as the area where you currently see the doorway and beyond.)

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And here’s a view of that same area after demolition is done (the walls and doorway are gone).  That’s our intrepid Director of Operations, Marc Hagenlocher, standing in the center. . . he is the one responsible for overseeing this massive renovation.

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Most recently, we poured the cement floor. . . stay tuned for more updates, but we can’t wait to welcome Patti LaBelle here on August 16th to be the first star performer to use this new dressing room!

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