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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Rocket redux

UT's Center for Performing Arts gets an overhaul.

BY ROSE RUSSELL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Improved lighting, re-upholstered seats and improvements in the acoustics in the improved Recital Hall. New facilities and expanded space are two of the improvements after renovations at the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Toledo. Improved lighting, re-upholstered seats and improvements in the acoustics in the improved Recital Hall. New facilities and expanded space are two of the improvements after renovations at the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Toledo.
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When the University of Toledo Center for Performing Arts opens its doors tomorrow afternoon, it will show off an expansion and renovation that befits a growing university.

Some minor detailing is still under way on the $2.4 million project. However, guests for the 1:15 p.m. concert prelude in the extensively renovated Recital Hall will be able to see the updates that UT officials will discuss during the 1:30 p.m. rededication of the center. That event also will be at the Recital Hall, which boasts a rebuilt stage, new seating, acoustical features, carpeting, and equipment.

The need for more space was apparent not long after the initial construction was completed on the building 35 years ago.

"I've been at the university for 30 years in performing arts," said professor of theater, James Hill. "At that time in 1980, we had pretty much filled the space. Then 10 years later we created a film major. Once we established that major, we started growing exponentially and reached critical mass in five years. We all said, 'We need more space.' "

During the past summer months about 20,000 square feet were added to the original structure on the main campus, across from the Law School. About two-thirds of the old structure was renovated.

The lobby is at least twice as wide as it once was, which will permit more freedom of movement during receptions that follow recitals.

Mr. Hill said the initial purpose of the project was to increase the lab and classroom space for the music and film programs.

"Both those programs had outgrown their needs," he said.

And while expanding the theater department wasn't a goal in this project, it gained additional space as a result.

"Theater had not planned to make major changes, but by vacating [some] areas, theater got a new scene shop -- which allowed for the exhaust system to be updated -- and backstage spaces," Mr. Hill added. "So everyone benefited. It was a very win-win project."

Prof. Lee Heritage, right, teaching a class in American Music in an acoustically-improved choral rehearsal room. New facilities and expanded space are two of the improvements after renovations at the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Toledo. Prof. Lee Heritage, right, teaching a class in American Music in an acoustically-improved choral rehearsal room. New facilities and expanded space are two of the improvements after renovations at the Center for Performing Arts at the University of Toledo.
THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The band room and the choral room -- which has acoustical panels and baffling to enhance sound -- have been expanded and the piano room is longer and wider. The film and video digital lab has new equipment and 16 work stations, where previously there were only about seven work stations for students, according to Angela Riddel, promotions specialist in the Departments of Theatre & Film, Music, Art.

"The change allowed for a film-video storage and check-out area. What was the lab theater is now the film and video production classroom," she said, adding that the dressing room now has twice as much space.

"And because theater lost a lot of area, the green room and dressing room and back stage areas are now properly backstage, as they should be."

Also added were several practice rooms, an instrumental rehearsal room, and storage space for music students to store large instruments, which before were kept in offices and wherever else they could fit.

Contact Rose Russell at rrussell@theblade.com or 419-724-6178.



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