Phase 1’s technology is done at PacRep, while MPC Theatre Company nears the end of a major refurbish.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Pacific Repertory Theatre, aka PacRep, managed to raise and use $2 million for Phase 1 of major renovations to their two theaters – the 300-seat Golden Bough Playhouse and the 120-seat Circle Theatre – and for now is ready to “enjoy the fruits of our labors,” says founder and artistic director Stephen Moorer, before leaping into Phase 2.
“Phase 1 was the superstructure and the main stage,” Moorer says, “and a lot of elements to further the arts.”
In the Golden Bough, that meant a revolving stage and new projectors, which they used to full effect – they employed the revolve and the “three projectors all at once” – in last month’s production of Legally Blonde.
But maybe the most visible upgrade is the 28-by-16-foot film screen, which they’ve used to broadcast the 2012 Olympics and show Carmel Art & Film Festival films, and incorporated into stage productions. On April 21 they’ll start a new program, made possible by the new toys, called the Encore Film Series, high-definition re-broadcasts of world class ballet, opera and theater, from the Salzburg Festival to Opera de Paris. It’s similar to The Met: Live in HD, the Metropolitan Opera’s award-winning hit series in partnership with NCM Fathom Events, simulcast locally at Monterey and Salinas movie theaters.
Lighthouse Cinemas in P.G. has a similar arrangement with Emerging Pictures – one of their first satellite broadcasts was the re-opening of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet after a $750 million renovation – and SpectiCast, a privately owned firm that specializes in arthouse and indie content, which is also the digital network provider for PacRep.
PacRep’s “simulcasts” are re-broadcasts, as some are a month old or older, but that’s not a bad thing.
“[Matthew Bourne’s] Swan Lake, in London, was groundbreaking but wasn’t seen in our area,” Moorer says. “It’s a couple years old, but new to us.”
PacRep’s Specticast broadcast season will screen one major work a month on Sunday evenings. It begins April 21 with the Feb. 7, 2013, London West End opening of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations at the Vaudeville Theater. It will skip across genres to include in its vortex The Doors Live from Hollywood Bowl ’68 (June 23) to Mozart’s The Magic Flute (July 21).
The smaller Circle Theatre got attention in the Phase 1 renovations too.
“Everyone loved the space,” Moorer says. “But it was too hot, too cold or claustrophobic.”
Now the ceiling is higher. There’s a new lighting booth and power, better ventilation, removable walls and another door to the outside to make late arrivals less conspicuous.
Through the couple of years of reconstruction, PacRep barely lagged in its programming. And now they’re looking to raise another $2 million to implement Phase 2, which will raise the sightlines of the Golden Bough’s raked seats from three inches to 12, redo dressing rooms, modernize the 1950s lobby, upgrade sound, and maximize and economize lighting.
“I’m enjoying a lovely sunset at Carmel Beach,” Moorer says by mobile phone. It’s a well-earned intermission from the torrent of work he’s been shepherding before Phase 2 begins.
The Monterey Peninsula College Theatre Company’s renovations – which happened almost concurrently with PacRep’s – are nearly complete and its two theaters will re-open in May. It’s been a major, all-at-once overhaul.
“They gutted the entire building, turned it into a concrete shell,” says Henry Guevara, MPC box office manager.
Now, he says, the wheelchair capacity is doubled, there are elevators for patrons and students, and the box office is moving to make room for a kitchen for concessions. There are new seats, curtains, dressing rooms and a third tier of lighting. There is a roundabout out back for easier deliveries, the costume shop has grown to two stories, the AC and plumbing were improved, and an earthquake retrofit and a check for hazardous materials took place.
“There’s a giant hydraulic orchestra pit,” Guevara says. “If they’re not using the orchestra, they can raise it up and seal the stage. The theater will have two sets of airlock doors so light won’t enter when you open [them].”
Their smaller SRO Theater will get new seats and a back entrance for actors.
The money for all this, $7.9 million, came from a 2001 bond measure. Guevara says the work was supposed to have been done seven years ago, but the school’s football field renovation and new library building took precedence.
In the couple of years during the renovations, MPC Theatre’s costumes were kept on former Fort Ord and set building took place in Sand City, while its productions roved around the county.
The company will begin to move back into its remodeled home April 1. The first show will be Light Up the Sky on May 10, “to make sure everything works,” Guevara says. Then they open big with Les Misérables in the summer.
At last week’s closing weekend of MPC’s sweet and ticklish Cinderella at Carmel Middle School, Guevara and theater manager Sky Rappoport manned the ticket and concessions table outside.
Bracing against the cold night, Rappoport said, “It’s going to be good to go home again.”
• Picking up the baton from Your Music Olympicks (remember that moveable mosh pit?), the city of Salinas’ Youth Commission stages a Battle of the Bands for people 21 or younger. There is a catch: Content must be appropriate for middle and high school students (good luck defining that). Submit audition CDs or DVDs with printed lyrics to Library and Community Services Department, Youth Commission, 200 Lincoln Ave., Salinas, by 5:30pm March 18. 758-7476. The battle commences April 26.
• There’s a convergence going on at Custom House Plaza. In close proximity to the painted piano art installation tour/campaign Play Me, I’m Yours (the plaza is one of 11 county locales where the publicly playable pianos will sit for another week), the Monterey Symphony will have an open house preview, noon-5pm Saturday, of their 2012-13 season running continuously in the Museum of Monterey theater. And… there will be wine.
• Nonprofits and libraries are struggling to find ever-elusive money. The Grantsmanship Center steps in like a training coach to help them do just that. Monterey County Free Library’s Castroville Branch is just one of two locations in California where the center will host free training for identifying and pursuing grants, with 12 months of follow-up support. The training would normally cost $895, but is being underwritten by the State LIbrary. Representatives of libraries and nonprofits are invited to the June 3-7 training, but must commit to all five days. Call 385-3677 or go to http://host7.evanced.info/califa/lib/eventsignup.asp?ID=75 for details (it’s a complex URL, but well worth getting there).
• Do you get Back Stage? Not in the Pink Floyd The Wall sense, but the Monterey County Theater Alliance monthly print or email newsletter sense. It’s a bounty of news – March 27 is World Theatre Day, says current MCTA prez Teresa Del Piero. But the March issue has a Cracker Jack prize inside: An excerpt from an adapted play by Lyn Whiting, a dialogue between two quirky characters in a convenience store on I-80 in Wyoming. Nice move, MCTA. Email email@example.com to sign up for the newsletter.
• The Sons of Norway are not to be confused with the Sons of Anarchy. The Sons of Norway Aasgaarden Lodge #112, District 6 vice president Thor Rasmussen describes himself as “one of the young ones” of the local club – he’s 80. They focus on Norway descendents and stories, like Big Sur’s Helmut Deetjen, but have also assembled a talk/presentation by Michael Hemp on Cannery Row. The group is trying to get younger members involved (“Young people just want to look at computers, I guess,” Thor says). On March 23, 2-4pm, at the Monterey Public Library Community Room, they bring former Weekly classical music writer Scott McClelland to talk about Norwegian music, like Edvard Grieg. Will that will lure younger potential members? Who knows? But I sure am rooting for the Sons of Norway.