Friday, March 16, 2012

Long Wharf Announces $3.8-Million Renovation

New roomier seats, updated lobby and exterior part of the project 
When Long Wharf Theatre was founded in 1965, the Food Terminal was intended as a temporary stop on the way to a different, permanent home.

“However, as time has gone on, we have realized that charm alone can only go so far," said Josh Borenstein, managing director. "Everyone knows that our seats are cramped and our bathroom lines are long. Our artists know that the lighting grid is inadequate for modern lighting instruments. We know that the heating and air conditioning system is inefficient and antiquated,”

After recently signing a lease that will keep the theatre in its historic home until at least 2022, Long Wharf Theatre, is getting a much needed makeover. With designs by Gregg, Wies & Gardner Architects in New Haven, the renovation makes improvements to the facility that will focus on the newly christened Claire Tow Stage in the C. Newton Schenck III Mainstage Theatre.

“Claire spent most of her time dedicated to issues related to social justice, children’s needs, medical research and the arts. Claire is a warm and wise soul. She has been a key part of Long Wharf Theatre for many years,” said Gordon Edelstein, artistic director.

To address these important issues, the theatre launched a $3.8 million renovation campaign in Fall 2011 to fund improvements. Long Wharf Theatre has currently raised approximately $2.56 million – close to 70 percent of the goal, which includes The Tow Foundation’s generous leadership gift of $1.25 million.

“Long Wharf Theatre is an essential and vital part of New Haven’s cultural arts community. The Tow Foundation is pleased to support the launch of this exciting moment in the theatre’s history,” said Emily Tow Jackson, executive director of The Tow Foundation.

In addition to recognition on the lobby donor wall for donors of $10,000 and up, there will be numerous opportunities for Long Wharf Theatre supporters to make an impact, including naming a seat on the Mainstage.

RENOVATION PLANS
Theatre leaders and Trustees believe the theatrical experience begins the moment an audience member exits their car to walk up to the theatre. There is also the belief that the Theatre’s appearance should, at long last, reflect the caliber of the artistic works it presents while embracing the industrial nature of its surroundings.

“These renovations will create a more inviting and welcoming atmosphere for our wonderful patrons. In addition, the world class artists who work here will do so in a more comfortable and favorable environment,” said Edelstein.

To that end, the renovations will create a new and more inviting entrance to the facility. New dramatic lighting and signage will invite audiences into the space and contribute to the experience of attending a Long Wharf Theatre performance. The streamlined glass and steel entryway will embrace the industrial aesthetic of the site.

One of the biggest complaints about Long Wharf Theatre will finally be addressed – ­ the cramped Mainstage seating will be replaced with new, roomier seats, each with significantly increased legroom between rows, making Long Wharf Theatre comfortable for all patrons, no matter how tall. This will decrease the number of seats from 486 to just over 400.

The Mainstage lobby will be renovated and expanded to create an open, inviting area. The addition of a new concessions bar and increased restroom capacity will allow for a more pleasant experience for patrons. The lobby will be decorated in warm wood panels, with projections and exhibitions providing context and information about the current play and upcoming events.

Another significant improvement is new heating and air-conditioning units, allowing for more comfort on the Mainstage and throughout the entire theatre.

Also original to the Theatre’s founding, the Mainstage lighting system consists of cumbersome, labor-intensive, and woefully out of date theatrical lighting grid. It restricts designers’ creativity, impedes the Theatre’s ability to co-produce with other theatres, and limits the nuance and atmosphere that great lighting can add to a production. A new lighting grid will allow designers and staff to work with modern lighting equipment and technology, adding to the theatre’s creative capacity and reducing operating costs.

For more information about the theatre’s renovation project and to find out how to help, visit www.longwharf.org

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced
numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont
Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.”

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway
League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway
run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill
Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/. She
is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), CT Press Club's award winner of first place for web editing and second place in feature writing for the web in 2012.

She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor
for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web. Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented
by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle (awards committee).

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts,
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

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