The Show Behind The Show
When the curtain rises in September 2017 at the new 130,000 square-foot Hale Centre Theatre, all eyes will be on the family-friendly entertainment. What is less obvious, but equally important is the “Show Behind the Show”: what you are not seeing behind the scenes.
A theater- in-the-round offers a close intimacy to the actors, the stage and other patrons. The round design is so fundamental to the experience that the architect, Beecher Walker Architects, wanted to create. They specifically chose a design where form meets function, with this round element of the theatre replicated frequently. The result is a thematic design with a series of concentric circles, starting with the natural curve on Monroe Street, followed by the curved landscape, leading to the round architecture of the building, and finally, the theatre in the round stage in the very center. From the street, it is very apparent the audience will be having this unique entertainment experience.
Underneath the actors’ feet lies an astonishing 65 foot deep, 50 foot diameter sub-pit housing all of the stage equipment, an impressive 130 motors that serve to raise and lower the stage. The nuts and bolts of a project this large are staggering:
- More than 75,000 cubic yards of earth were moved to get the building underway
- The structure itself, with footings, foundation and walls, will contain 7,700 cubic yards of concrete
- 920 tons of rebar provide the support inside the concrete
- The steel roofing, trusses, columns and beams amount to 1,800 tons of structural steel
Sound: The top-notch sound system combined with the natural properties of the room itself, will lend itself to a superior acoustical experience.
Sets: Above the actors’ heads, two double gantry cranes allow for the flying of actors and scenery in dynamic ways never before seen locally. Mary Poppins can fly twice as high, 36 feet to be exact. The car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang can be moved into place and then additional scenery and large props can be manipulated. This capability dramatically heightens the immersive theater experience.
Theater is an escape from the realities of life, a time to make memories with your family, a place to laugh and cry. The show must, and does, always go on and at Hale Centre Theatre, generations of patrons will be glad it does.