Seeing a show at Chandler Center for the Arts will be a whole new experience this season. After a months-long, $6.7 million renovation in the off-season, the 21-year-old venue is putting a fresh face forward.
“We now have a much broader capacity for the different kinds of programs we can do,” says general manager Katrina Pappas.
Among the refurbishments are brand-new seating and air-conditioning, new stage and lobby floors, handrails along auditorium stairways, and a host of upgrades for people with disabilities, from accessible seating located mid-house to more gradual ramps and extra parking spaces.
The biggest upgrade to the facility’s infrastructure is the most impactful for patrons: a new rigging system. Made up of the equipment that hangs lights, scenery, drapery and other theatrical elements on stage, the system has increased stage crews’ capability to hoist items into the air from a top speed of 20 feet per minute to 180 feet per minute.
“We can fly scenery in an instant. Before, we actually had to wait until intermission to change scenes. The new system opens up the opportunity to bring in any show with multiple scene changes and even concerts that have rapid-moving, fly-in props or people,” says Pappas, citing a show like “Peter Pan” as an example.
Outside, the building boasts new directional signage and a remodeled entry terrace. Gone are the fountain and solid block-wall planters filled with dense vegetation.
“Remodeling the terrace was an add-on benefit that we didn’t expect, something we were able to do through cost savings with the rest of the project. It was just completed (two weeks ago), and that was a nice bonus. That’s probably the biggest visual impact for guests who remember how it was before,” says Pappas.
For a detailed list of upgrades in the $6.7 million renovation project, go to www.chandlercenter.org.