Public Tours New Theatre
What the imagination conceived became a new and exciting reality for approximately 1,500 people who on Feb. 28, who joined South Florida Community College employees in celebrating the debut of the SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts.
Tour guides and spokespeople included Glenn Little, vice president, Administrative Services, R.L. Geiger, building official, Bil Kovacs, Cultural Programs technical director, Anne Reynolds, SFCC trustee, and many volunteers. Upon entering through the stunning porte-cochere, guests viewed the main lobby’s Donor Wall and continued through the new balcony, the sideboxes, the stage, dressing rooms, the sound booth, the orchestra section, and the lower lobby. Along the way, SFCC staff explained the theatre’s development and pointed out features that will add to the comfort and pleasure of upcoming performances.
The Highlands County Concert Band showed off the theatre’s crystal clear acoustics with a performance of patriotic music. Outside, Celebration Brass entertained the crowd with classic American melodies.
Doug Andrews, dean, Cultural Programs, thanked the community for its steadfast support that began in 1984, when the Cultural Series – the precursor to the Artist Series – was launched. As Andrews explained, the renovation accomplished one of its major goals by raising the fly space over the stage, creating room for sets and more sophisticated productions.
“This new theatre has been made possible through the contributions of our sponsors,” Andrews said. “They’re the ones who have made it possible to bring high-class performances to central Florida. We’ve been able to forge partnerships with the community over the years, and we value those partnerships.”
The theatre seats 1,499 guests. The orchestra section contains 950 seats and 28 handicapped seats, while the balcony provides 353 seats and four wheelchair spaces. Another 164 seats are found in the 20 sideboxes.
In addition to improved sound and lighting, special touches include sound and light lock doors, making it possible for patrons to enter or exit the theatre without distracting others. Artwork and photography on display throughout the theatre has been created by SFCC faculty and students.
“The primary focus during the design phase was to improve each patron’s experience and create a performing arts venue capable of supporting large theatrical productions. This was accomplished in so many ways,” Little said. “I am delighted with the community’s reaction to the facility modifications and look forward to even bigger and better productions and community events in the years to come.”
The $12.5 million renovation was funded by state of Florida Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) funds and private donations. Patrons may contribute to the theatre project by sponsoring an area, such as the stage or lobby, or purchasing the naming rights to certain areas of the theatre or its seats. For more information, contact Don Appelquist, executive director, SFCC Foundation Inc., at 453-3133.
Bill Kovacs, Cultural Programs technical director, speaks to a group of guests at the public open house.